His major offseason goal already accomplished, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is still hunting for more starting pitching as he reshapes the team following its first-round elimination.
Cashman signed a three-year contract worth about $9 million Tuesday, a day after his previous deal expired. The announcement came less than 24 hours after CC Sabathia chose not to become a free agent and instead agreed to a contract that gave him an additional $30 million guaranteed for 2016.
“He’s certainly the most important piece as we entered this process,” Cashman said during a conference call. “CC provides us a lot of security, and that’s obviously why he makes what he makes.”
A weak free-agent class for pitchers is headed by Edwin Jackson, C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle and Hiroki Kuroda. Bats are more plentiful, with Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran on the market.
“Pitching, pitching, pitching. That will be the main thrust,” Cashman said, a sign the Yankees could explore trades involving low-priced players such as Jesus Montero and Brett Gardner. “I don’t anticipate a bat being of need at all. I anticipate people knocking on our door about the current bats we have.”
On other topics, Cashman said A.J. Burnett is likely to remain with the Yankees and stay in the rotation; wouldn’t say whether the team intends to re-sign 40-year-old Jorge Posada; praised catcher Russell Martin but wouldn’t say whether he will offer a multiyear contract; said he’s open to re-signing pitchers Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, and third baseman Eric Chavez; and wouldn’t commit to whether the Yankees would have an interest in Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, who may become available in the posting process from the Nippon Ham Fighters.
Cashman has been GM since February 1998, when he succeeded Bob Watson. The only general manager to serve longer with the Yankees is Ed Barrow from 1920-45.
Under Cashman, the team has won four World Series titles and six AL pennants, finishing first in the AL East 11 times and advancing to the playoffs in 13 of 14 seasons. He’s presided over baseball operations during the transition from George Steinbrenner to the more collegial environment establish by son Hal Steinbrenner.
“I have a big seat at the table, but I don’t sit at the head of the table,” Cashman said. “I know my place. I know my job description. I know my responsibilities. And I know my abilities to make recommendations. They carry a lot of weight. It doesn’t necessarily carry the day every day. I respect and understand that.”
Without giving any specifics, Cashman touched on several players:
—On Posada: “He’s been one of the best catchers in Yankee history and a borderline Hall of Famer and obviously is in the free-agent category currently. So I think that’s something that we’ll have to discuss here in the short term but it’s not something I’m prepared to talk to about today.”
—On Martin: “He came in here and we thought he was Thurman Munson-like. I wasn’t here in the ’70s, but you know what Thurman Munson stood for, represented, how he played the game and leadership that he provided in the clubhouse.”
—On Burnett: “He’s had to deal with adversity because of the inconsistent performance. He hasn’t shied away from it and he continues to take that ball every five days and do everything he possibly can to secure a win and be the best he could possibly be. … I expect him to be in the rotation going forward.”
—On right fielder Nick Swisher, whose option was exercised Saturday: “He has been one of the better offensive right fielders in the game ever since he’s been here. … We’re lucky to have him. It was any easy call.”
NOTES: RHP Andrew Brackman has been released by the New York Yankees, four years after signing a contract for a $3.35 million bonus.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.