Cashman Says Yankees' $189 Million Payroll Goal Is Not a Mandate

New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said the organization’s goal to bring 2014 payroll below $189 million won’t get in the way of fielding a World Series-quality team.

“It’s a goal, not a mandate,” Cashman said today at a Yankee Stadium news conference. “Every option, every opportunity that comes my way via trade or free agency, I will always present to my owner and team president for evaluation.”

New York had an opening-day payroll of $228.8 million in 2013, according to CBS Sports. Both Cashman and Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner have said the team would like to be below $189 million next year to save luxury tax payments that can be as high as 50 percent of any amount over that threshold and is distributed to other Major League Baseball teams.

Reducing payroll could be difficult if the team plans to re-sign All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano, a free-agent after nine seasons with the Yankees. Cano, 30, is seeking a deal worth about $305 million over 10 years, ESPN reported last week.

Cashman said the team would make Cano a “significant” offer to stay.

“He’s been a great Yankee,” the general manager said. “At the same time it’s a business and he has comported himself in a tremendous way both on and off the field. We’ve been extremely happy to have him and we hope to extend that relationship.”

Injured List

The Yankees finished the season 85-77, 6 1/2 games out of the final American League playoff spot. The team battled injuries to many of its highest-paid hitters, including Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Kevin Youkilis, and was eliminated from postseason contention with three games remaining. Pitching ace C.C. Sabathia had career highs in losses (13) and home runs allowed (28), and gave up 112 earned runs, the most in baseball.

Rodriguez, a third baseman, received a 211-game drug ban by MLB in August and was allowed to play pending an arbitration hearing that began yesterday in New York. If upheld, the ban would keep Rodriguez, MLB’s highest-paid player and a three-time Most Valuable Player, off the field until midway through the 2015 season.

Uncertainty surrounding Cano, Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, the Yankees’ 39-year shortstop and captain who missed all but 17 games this year with leg injuries, may force the team to address its infield makeup during free agency, Cashman said. He also said the starting rotation is a priority.

“There are a lot of areas to focus on, this winter more than previous winters,” he said.

Girardi Talks

The team has begun negotiations with Joe Girardi, who was a catcher in New York from 1996 to 1999 and has managed the team for the last six years. While he led the team to the World Series championship in 2009, Girardi also has managed the only two Yankee squads in the last 19 years that failed to reach the postseason.

Cashman said he met yesterday with Girardi, who is under contract until the end of the month, and will meet with his agent tomorrow in New York. He said the team would “give him a real good reason to stay, and he’s earned that.”

“Obviously the talent that he had to work with this year was significantly less than other years,” Cashman said. “The job of the manager is to make sure these guys fight, compete on a daily basis and stay motivated and he was able to provide that.”

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.