Return of A-Rod's salary limits Yankees' moves

Cashman: $21M owed Rodriguez keeps club out of bidding for Shields

Return of A-Rod's salary limits Yankees' moves

NEW YORK -- The Yankees are not expected to actively bid for free-agent right-hander James Shields, and as general manager Brian Cashman explained on Wednesday, that is partially because of the return of Alex Rodriguez.

In an interview on WPAT-AM 930, Cashman pointed to Rodriguez's reinstatement as one reason that the Yankees have stayed away from expensive hurlers like Shields and Max Scherzer, who finalized a seven-year, $210 million deal with the Nationals on Wednesday.

"We, in fact, had some contracts coming back on with Alex Rodriguez returning from his suspension. That was $21 million coming back on the payroll," Cashman said. "We'll still have about the second-highest payroll, and I don't see it going any higher."

The Yankees are expected to field an Opening Day payroll close to $210 million. They have been active on the trade front and made two significant signings in free agency, re-signing third baseman Chase Headley to a four-year, $52 million deal and inking setup man Andrew Miller to a four-year, $36 million pact.

Rodriguez is owed at least $61 million over the next three seasons. He could boost his 2015 salary by $6 million with six home runs, which would tie him with Willie Mays (660).

"We've talked a lot about whether we'd be shopping in the high-end district this winter, and outside of Andrew Miller's signing, we've kind of stayed away from that stuff," Cashman said. "Typically, when we're aggressive in the winter with a lot of big-time contracts is when big contracts are coming off [our payroll]. This winter wasn't that case."

The Yankees' Opening Day rotation projects to include Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Capuano, with Ivan Nova expected to return from Tommy John surgery rehab in May or June.

Cashman acknowledged that there are "no guarantees" with Tanaka, who sustained a partial tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament last July.

"He certainly may need Tommy John at some point, and maybe sooner [rather] than later," Cashman said. "We just don't know. It's a complete guessing game. He made two starts before the season ended on us. It's just hard to predict what's going to happen, but we're certainly hopeful he can return to what he was prior to the injury."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.