The agents for both Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui were in Chicago these past three days, but Yankees general manager Brian Cashman met with neither of them.
“I said hello passing in the hallway,” Cashman said. “But I never had any official dialogue with any agents about our players or any players who have elected free agency so far.”
On the final day of the General Managers Meetings, Cashman again expressed doubt that he would get a deal done before the 15-day exclusive negotiation window closes. The Yankees are one week into that window with eight days to go. The Yankees will gather their scouts and various decision makers before taking any sort of significant action. Outrighting Freddy Guzman and Josh Towers doesn’t exactly qualify as a let’s-discuss-this-first kind of decision.
One opinion that seems set in stone is Matsui’s ability to play the outfield. While the Yankees believe Damon would still be able to handle left field again next season, Cashman said Matsui is only a designated hitter. “He may very well be an outfielder for somebody else,” Cashman said. For the Yankees, though, Matsui is strictly a DH.
• Signing both Damon and Matsui would finalize the Yankees significant free agent position player signings. “If I did that I wouldn’t have room for anybody else unless I made trades,” Cashman said. To me, that suggests the Yankees are not considering replacing Xavier Nady. They would likely go into spring training with Nick Swisher as the everyday right fielder, which seems to be neither a bad thing nor a surprising thing.
• How certain is it that players eligible for free agency actually file for free agency? I wanted to double check that Andy Pettitte is the only Yankee who has yet to file, and Cashman said he honestly wasn’t sure. He hasn’t kept up with who has officially filed and who hasn’t.
• Just like with major league free agents, Cashman said the Yankees have the same 15-day window in which to negotiate with their own minor league free agents. I had no idea that was the case. That said, I imagine not many minor league free agents accept a minor league contract without at least checking around for better opportunities.
• I talked to one source who said Aroldis Chapman has exactly the arm and raw stuff that he’s touted as having, but his control remains a bit erratic. Doesn’t mean he won’t be a great pitcher, just means he’s not a finished product. As for who will get him, the price will rule out all but the usual suspects. “Start with the Yankees and Red Sox and go from there,” the source said.
• Cashman’s assessment of the trade market: “Like every year, there are players on other clubs that are very attractive and there are players that are being offered that aren’t,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. What necessarily fits and what doesn’t and asking prices, we’ll have to determine and work out. That’s all for another day. I guess it puts me in a better position at this stage, when we have our first scouting meetings, so we can pref things out with potential trade market players that are available along with the free agents. That usually isn’t a part of our first scouting meeting.”