LAS VEGAS — Brian Cashman arrived at the winter meetings on Sunday with his club looking to upgrade the starting rotation, bullpen and keeping an eye on Manny Machado.
Whether the Yankees leave a city that never closes and offers millions of ways to lose money and other temptations having fulfilled their needs is something that the Yankees’ general manager couldn’t predict.
“Confident? No,’’ Cashman told The Post in the lobby of the Mandalay Bay on Sunday afternoon when asked if he was confident of getting something done.
Cashman, however, agreed that didn’t mean he would leave on Thursday with something having gotten accomplished.
“We have some heavy lifting to do,’’ Cashman said. “Whether that will happen or not.’’
With so many hotel options for club executives, scouts and agents they no longer need to all stay under one roof. Texting has replaced the late-night meetings in the main hotel bar or team suites.
And the Yankees have had since Oct. 10, the day after they were eliminated by the Red Sox in the ALDS, to prepare for the moves that need to made to close the gap between them and their blood rivals.
Signing Machado, 26, would certainly shorten that distance, especially since the Yankees don’t know when shortstop Didi Gregorius will be able to return from Tommy John surgery in October on his right (throwing) elbow.
Interest in Machado will likely lead to a get-together at some point, though not necessarily at these meetings.
Hal Steinbrenner, Aaron Boone and Cashman have all talked about Machado and none of the three has sounded as if the Yankees have dismissed signing the infielder who admitted during the postseason that hustling wasn’t high on his list, was called a dirty player and hit .182 (4-for-22) in the Dodgers’ World Series loss to the Red Sox.
Machado played in 162 regular-season games between the Orioles and Dodgers and batted .287 with 37 homers, 107 RBIs and a .905 OPS.
Bryce Harper and Machado are easily the sexiest names on the free-agent market and will dominate the coverage of the winter meetings even if there are limited teams willing to meet their demands of $300 million-plus contracts.
Having already acquired lefty starter James Paxton from the Mariners the Yankees filled one of their rotation openings and believed they had a strong chance of signing free-agent lefty Patrick Corbin. However, when the Nationals offered the 29-year-old Corbin a six-year deal worth $140 million the Yankees didn’t want to go to a half-dozen years and Corbin signed with the NL East club.
Had the Yankees secured Corbin it was unlikely free agent J.A. Happ would have returned to the Yankees who were interested in the 36-year-old while engaged with Corbin. Now, that interest remains for a pitcher who went a combined 17-6 with a 3.65 ERA in a 31 games for the Blue Jays and Yankees. In 11 starts for the Yankees, Happ went 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA.
There is industry buzz the Yankees would like to keep any deal to two years and Happ is exploring the chances of getting a three-year contract.
The free-agent market for starters was thin before Nathan Eovaldi inked a four-year deal worth $67.5 million to stay with the World Series champion Red Sox and Corbin struck gold with the Nationals. Happ leads a list of free-agent starters that includes Dallas Keuchel, Yusei Kikuchi, Charlie Morton and Lance Lynn.
As for upgrading the bullpen, Zach Britton is close to a lock to leaving for a team he can close for and David Robertson could depart The Bronx too. They are free agents in a class that is seemingly waiting for Craig Kimbrel to set the market.
Jeurys Familia will likely get some love as a closer. Andrew Miller has been linked to several teams and Adam Ottavino is drawing a lot of interest after a solid walk-year season. A second reunion with Adam Warren isn’t out of the question.
Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees’ head of amateur scouting, will be among four people honored by MLB on Wednesday night at the Mandalay Bay when the 35th MLB Scout of the Year reception will be held.
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