The Yankees have naturally kept their offseason plans fairly tight-lipped, but with several big decisions looming, it’s imperative that the team gets this offseason right. In media availability earlier this week, Brian Cashman may have tipped his hand a bit with some of his responses about certain players.
For one, it seems like Didi Gregorius could be on the way out. Cashman praised the ability of Gleyber Torres to play shortstop, a plug that wouldn’t be necessary unless there could be an opening at shortstop. When asked about Gregorius specifically, Cashman was dodgy.
“I can’t tell you ‘less likely, more likely,’” he said. “I can just tell you Didi was a great player for us. He’s a free agent now, so there’s gonna be competition for his services. We will continue to engage and see if it leads to continuing a relationship or not. But up to this point we’ve been very fortunate and happy to have him as a member of our franchise. Maybe we’ll be able to say that for a couple of years as well – or not – but that remains to be seen, I can’t predict.”
That’s a lot different than how he addressed Brett Gardner, who is expected to return.
“I wouldn’t compromise our efforts to re-signing a player,” Cashman said. “He just clearly put himself in a great position this free agent winter because of the year he’s had. We’ve known how good Gardy has been and is for a long time. ... We’d love to have that continue.”
Reading the tea leaves should tell fans that retaining Gregorius, while not impossible, is not a priority of Cashman’s. While the team has options to fill his role, more depth can never hurt, and it would be difficult to lose Didi’s clubhouse presence. The fallout of Gregorius’s future in New York will be an interesting storyline to follow this offseason, and potentially down the line if it leads to a messy exit.
Cashman also doubled down on his plans for third base, saying that the starting spot is Gio Urshela’s to lose, but also saying that Miguel Andujar is expected to have a serious role on the team. Andujar may be tasked with learning some new positions, including first base and the outfield, to provide more versatility.
The Yankees also may be more ready to move on from backup catcher Austin Romine than previously thought. Cashman spoke glowingly of Kyle Higashioka, the soon-to-be 30-year-old catcher, saying that he’d be “comfortable” with Higashioka behind the dish as Gary Sanchez’s backup.
“We feel he’s ready to go,” Cashman said. “Like a lot of aspects of our roster, we feel we have personnel that can do the job.”
Again, this almost reads as another sign that Gregorius is not returning. Cashman didn’t have to say that last part, but threw it in anyway. The team has personnel that can do Gregorius’s job, which means they will not be banging the door down to bring him back.
Externally, Cashman has confirmed that the team will be in the sweepstakes for All-Stars Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, while also expressing interest in Madison Bumgarner. This bodes well for the Yankees, who seem to be willing to get back into the big fish free agency game, after shooing Patrick Corbin and Manny Machado away last year.
Of course dealing with the media is also a game in and of itself, and Cashman knows how to play it. Still, some unusually declarative comments (Gregorius, Andujar, Higashioka) have dropped some hints about some aspects about the Yankees’ offseason plan, which may include a few painful goodbyes.