NEW YORK -- The Yankees weren't bluffing when they said they were steering clear of the bidding for Jon Lester and Max Scherzer, considered the top prizes of this free-agent pitching class. That restraint apparently is extending to the sweepstakes for James Shields.
"The dialogue always continues, but the heavy lifting for right now is over," general manager Brian Cashman told WFAN on Friday. "We're anxious to get to Spring Training to see what we've got. I know we had a lot of areas of need. We wanted to get younger, but we had a lot of areas to fill. We are pleased with how the winter has gone. We've got a lot of guys with some risk, upside and youth. That creates a potpourri of things that can happen."
Insiders have indicated that the Yankees are busy preparing to package their available funds in a different direction. They remain a favorite landing spot for 19-year-old switch-hitting Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, who has been cleared to negotiate with big league clubs and owns the potential to advance through the pipeline quickly.
A great deal of attention has been focused recently on Moncada, who had a private workout for the Yankees in Tampa, Fla., and projects as a future second baseman or third baseman in the big leagues. He could require substantial investment; one estimate is $40 million, plus a 100 percent penalty because the Yankees have exceeded their international pool limits.
Cashman said that Tanaka "had a great winter" after partially tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in early July, and though the Yankees will be cautious, they are hopeful the right-hander can return to the form he showed prior to the injury.
"He finished the season as a healthy player," Cashman said. "He wasn't prescribed any different regimen because of what happened last year. He went back to his normal program, throwing routine, rest routine, because he was considered a healthy player. There was no more rehab necessary."
Cashman said the Yankees will also have to exercise some caution with Sabathia, who is returning from season-ending right knee surgery, but they believe he can still be a workhorse contributor to the rotation.
"I don't know if we're going to see the No. 1 or 2 [stuff], but we do expect to get the 200 innings and high-end pitchability," Cashman said. "The biggest thing we have to stay away from that we saw in the last two years is the home run ball. The strikeouts and walks are in line with his previous year totals. If we can get him healthy and keep him healthy, I think he's going to be a positive for us."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.