The Yankees typically traverse the offseason like a wild cat laying in the weeds, readying to pounce on the move that fits into the organization's methodological game plan. With the GM Meetings set to begin Monday, what might be areas where the Yankees concentrate their efforts?
This offseason likely won't be any different than the past, although the cat might take some early morsels before devouring the bulk of its prey. The Yankees established their priorities immediately after their ouster from the playoffs -- again a consistent part of the overall strategy.
It is no secret that the Yankees will be big players in the free agent market this offseason. However, the club is also clear about maneuvering around its current roster configuration.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman has already indicated he would like to find a new home for starting pitcher Sonny Gray. Gray's time with the Yankees has not gone according to plan, forcing Cashman to search for a trade partner. This is important in an effort to improve the quality of the club's rotation as well as a means to provide salary relief for expected expenditures.
The Yankees would likely be pleased to rid themselves of Jacoby Ellsbury, but finding a suitor for the oft-injured and underperforming outfielder is easier said than done. New York would love to have the roster spot back, but they would also enjoy recouping even a small portion of Ellsbury's salary in the process.
Finally, while the Yankees may be unlikely to be aggressive right now about trading third baseman Miguel Andujar or catcher Gary Sanchez, clubs will certainly reach out about these players to gauge the Yankees commitment to them.
The Yankees will spend plenty of time chatting with agents for players that fit the mold for the future of the club.
Whether that's Dan Lozano, Manny Machado's agent, Patrick Corbin's ISE Baseball representatives or David Robertson, who is representing himself this offseason, the Yankees will surely get a taste for the desires of the players they covet. These immediate discussions will determine if their expectations for salary expense matches the individual's wants.
The Yankees search won't concentrate solely on the marquee names, but will stretch to the spots reserved for bench roles, bullpen spots and backend rotation arms.
Potential trades may ease free agent moves
The Yankees could and should vet trade targets for starting pitching before venturing headfirst into the free agent market. The Giants might make Madison Bumgarner available, while the Indians have recently declared they will listen to offers on Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco.
If the Yankees believed they could trade for any of those pitchers, they might work hard to do so before making their decisions on free agent hurlers on their wish list. Adding an ace-like pitcher via trade could make the necessity of spending heavily -- and making a significant commitment -- on two or more starters less an issue.
Background work for backup plans
Like any club, the Yankees realize many of the players on their preliminary wishlist will end up elsewhere. As such, the Yankees might use the GM Meetings to conduct exploratory discussions about backup plans with clubs where it pertains to certain players available for trades.
The Yankees could also utilize the time to gauge other teams' interests in their own players should New York make a trade or free agent signing that overloads a certain position. The Yankees would want the ability to quickly pivot if a scenario evolves that was not necessarily part of the initial planning.
The likelihood of the Yankees making an actual signing or big trade might be minimal during the coming week. But whenever those moves go down, Cashman may point to a conversation held this week as the moment the groundwork was laid for the deal.