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What did we learn from the GM Meetings?

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Expectations were not high going in to this week’s General Managers Meetings. It’s still very early in the offseason, and Brian Cashman takes a patient approach to the winter. He left Indian Wells yesterday saying there was nothing — no trade, no signing — on the verge of happening.

“One thing I’ve learned over time is, if you’re impatient and you try to force an issue, it’s going to cost you whether it’s in terms of player talent, whether it’s in terms of financial dollars committed,” Cashman said. “If you feel desperate and you’re forcing something, then you’re going to have to significantly overpay in terms of player assets or dollars. I’ve learned that there’s always something coming around the corner. You can either project it, predict it, or it will surprise you. But there’s always something.”

Recognizing that it’s early, and acknowledging that we don’t have a ton of detail — so far — about the Yankees offseason plans, what did we actually learn during these GM Meetings? Here are five things.

[2]Re-signing Hiroki Kuroda might not be easy
The qualifying offer was a bad deal for Kuroda. It wa a one-year deal at a decent raise from last season, but the market indicates he can get more. There are multiple teams interested, returning to Japan remains a possibility, and Kuroda is a tough guy to gauge. Of the nine players given a qualifying offer, only Kuroda seemed possible to accept, but as the week went on, it became clear he wouldn’t. And that leaves some nagging questions about the Yankees rotation depth. Cashman correctly points out that the rotation also looked bad at this time last year, yet the Yankees had an abundance of starters by the middle of March. There’s time to get it figured out, but if Kuroda once seemed like the easy addition, it’s clear now that he might not be so easy afterall.

There’s no easy way around the $189 million limit
More than a third of next year’s budget restriction is already tied up in Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia. And it’s going to take another significant chunk to re-sign or replace Robinson Cano. The Yankees desire to lower payroll was an ongoing storyline this week, and that’s not likely to change. Every big name that signs elsewhere will carry some sort of weight with the Yankees. Would they have signed that player five years ago? Best way to deal with the restriction might be this one: Get all-around production from Teixeira again, get run production from Rodriguez again, and get another Cy Young-candidate season from Sabathia.

No easy way through the American League, either
The Rangers seem ready to spend. The Red Sox have dumped their bad contracts. The Blue Jays are aleady making some small moves and have some spending ability. The Orioles have been connected to the market’s top position player. The Rays and Tigers are among the teams with rumored interest in Justin Upton. Things are quiet with the Yankees. But things aren’t quiet everywhere.

Alex Rodriguez is not going to be traded
It was a brief rumor at the end of the postseason, but at this point, Cashman is going out of his way to dismiss the notion that he might actually trade Rodriguez. It’s just not going to happen. Rodriguez has said he’s not going anywhere, it seems next to impossible for Cashman to find a trade partner, and losing Rodriguez would only force the Yankees to spend even more money on a replacement. It just doesn’t add up, and Cashman is one to usually leave all options open. This option is one he’s shooting down time and time again.

The Yankees want Russell Martin back
They have Austin Romine playing in the Fall League, and they have a series of defensive backups, but it seems obvious that the Yankees want to re-sign Martin. Twice this week Cashman seemed to go out of his way to talk up Martin. “I’m a big fan of the player,” Cashman said on Wednesday. “Russell Martin is a helluva player, as far as I’m concerned,” Cashman said Thursday. Catcher is a tough position to fill, Romine’s no sure thing and Gary Sanchez is several years away. Cashman has talked about having to pick and choose where he spends, but it seems that he’s willing to spend behind the plate.

Associated Press photo