NEW YORK (WFAN) — The Yankees are waiting in the weeds — with checkbook in hand.
The warnings of a possible spending free-for-all started coming last week and now the Bombers are fully engaged with the agents for several of the top free agents on the market, CBSSports.com and WFAN baseball insider Jon Heyman reported Wednesday.
Led by managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, a contingent of Yankees brass has met with representatives for outfielders Carlo Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury, shortstop Stephen Drew, and catcher Brian McCann during the GM Meetings in Orlando, Fla.
The Yankees are said to have general interest in each, Heyman reported. Their interest in Drew is intriguing considering they recently signed Derek Jeter to a one-year, $12 million deal. Steinbrenner is believed to have told Jeter of his intentions to pursue Drew, who hit .253 with 13 homers and 67 RBIs for the Red Sox this past season, and possibly bring back backup Brendan Ryan, Heyman reported.
While no signing was imminent, it’s readily apparent the Yankees are prepared to do whatever is necessary to make up for their third place — and non-playoff — finish this past season. At the very least they will have to replace Curtis Granderson and Hiroki Kuroda, who earlier this week turned down their $14.1 million qualifying offers.
Second baseman Robinson Cano, by far the most attractive free agent on the market, also turned down his qualifying offer from the Yankees, but that was expected, considering it’s largely believed he will get a long-term deal with a total value near $200 million this offseason. The Yankees figure to be one of few teams who will offer that kind of money.
The Bombers are also expected to target several pitchers, including Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka, and possibly right-handers Matt Garza and Dan Haren, among others.
The Yankees hope to accomplish all of these upgrades and have a total team salary below the $189 million luxury tax threshold. According to a report put together by The Associated Press, the Yankees can spend roughly $80 million this offseason and still come in under that number. However, they could have even more money to work with if Alex Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension is upheld. Rodriguez is scheduled to make $25 million in 2014.
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