Cashman planning Igawa talks

Cashman planning Igawa talks

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Although the Yankees didn't make any major headlines during the first day of Winter Meetings, general manager Brian Cashman could be making some news before he leaves Disney.

Cashman plans to meet with Arn Tellem, the agent for Japanese left-hander Kei Igawa, on Tuesday, opening negotiations between the two sides.

The Yankees won the rights to negotiate with Igawa last week, submitting the top bid of more than $26 million for the Hanshin Tigers' starting pitcher. New York has until Dec. 28 to come to terms with the 27-year-old, though a deal is expected to be reached well before that deadline.

Cashman said that Tellem's arrival in the Orlando area was delayed, and the agent said in an e-mail that he would be arriving at the meetings on Tuesday.

"I will meet with the Yankees this week," said Tellem, who has a good relationship with the Yankees, having worked out contracts for Mike Mussina, Jason Giambi and Hideki Matsui.

Igawa had a record of 86-60 and a 3.15 ERA in eight seasons with Hanshin in the Central League. He won the league's MVP award in 2003, posting a 20-5 record and 2.80 ERA in 29 starts.

Igawa, who features a 90-mph fastball and an above-average curveball, went 14-9 with a 2.97 ERA last season, striking out 194 batters to tie for the league lead. It was the third time he has won the Central League's strikeout title, also doing so in 2002 and 2004.

Cashman said that the $26 million bid was more reflective of the free-agent market in the United States than of the team's evaluation of Igawa. The GM also pointed out that every dollar the Yankees spend on the free-agent market costs them $1.40 with the luxury tax, while the posting fee is not counted against the tax.

"We feel he can fit in the back of our rotation," Cashman said. "We think he can be a quality, left-handed Major League starter."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.