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Cone: “Yankees are “not in the game” for free agents

Tweet [1]

[2]Earlier today, David Cone and Joe Girardi helped assemble USO packages at Yankee Stadium, [3]and I’m guessing Cone spoke for many of you when he said this:

“Free agents do not need to apply (with the Yankees), as far as right now. … It’s shaking up the free-agent market, that’s for sure — not just this year, but a couple of years; probably since ’09 or ’08. A lot of agents are out there waiting for the Yankees to get back in the game, and they’re not in the game. It may take a couple of more years. I think most people realize this is probably a one-year thing with the Yankees so they can reset the tax rate. If they get under one year, then maybe the Yankees will be back in play again.”

The Yankees have yet to make a splash this winter — then again, most teams have yet to make a real splash this winter — and it’s clear that the Yankees budget concerns going forward are a significant factor. Trying to get below the $189-million mark has left them hesitant to give multi-year deals, which has hurt their chances of landing players like Torii Hunter, who’s already signed with the Tigers.

Although baseball is still waiting for this week’s blockbuster trade to become official, Girardi acknowledged the Blue Jays have gotten much better.

“They’ve been tough on us over the years anyway,” Girardi said. “It just becomes a little more difficult. But there’s a long way to the start of Spring Training and Opening Day, and there’s a lot of work to be done.”

Girardi said he’s spoken to Andy Pettitte this winter, but Girardi said Pettitte still hasn’t made a decision about whether to pitch next season.

“It starts with pitching,” Girardi said. “If you don’t have the pitching, it’s going to be hard to compete on a daily basis. Building this rotation is extremely important.”

Associated Press photo