Cashman looks ahead to Spring Training

Cashman looks ahead to Spring Training

NEW YORK -- Entering his 10th season as general manager, Brian Cashman has seen his Yankees teams run the gamut of Spring Training news cycles.

February's calendars have been highlighted by tell-all books, imported superstars, blockbuster trades, returns from injuries, off-field issues, contract talks and even a few spats with the Boston Red Sox. And that's just the last few years.

So what could the next few weeks of 2007 hold? Cashman isn't sure, but one thing is certain -- around the Yankees, events are never in short supply.

"Every spring is different," Cashman told on Friday. "There are always major needs with potential free agents at the end of the year; there are always new players who arrive via trades, and new free agents.

"Sometimes you've got a former player returning, like Andy Pettitte, and sometimes you've got a new hotshot rookie knocking on the door. The stories can be similar, the teams are very different, but the effort to win a championship and be the best you can be is always there."

Though the mandatory report date for Yankees pitchers and catchers isn't until Feb. 13, several veteran players -- Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Miguel Cairo among them -- have already traded their winter gear for shorts and T-shirts.

Another Yankees stalwart, Bernie Williams, remains on the outside looking in. The Yankees have reportedly offered the 38-year-old a standing non-roster invitation to camp, which the outfielder said Friday he did not intend to accept.

Williams addressed reporters briefly at a New Milford, Conn., benefit concert. Convinced by his good showing last season, Williams has said that he is capable of playing another season, though the Yankees -- the only organization he has known in a 16-year Major League career -- do not appear to have room for him and, thus far, have been unwilling to offer a guaranteed deal.

Cashman said that he views the Yankees' roster changes as largely complete.

"As of right now, we're going in with what we've got," he said. "I've floated some ideas out there, but I don't want to say anything more than that. These are the people we've committed to going in with, so we're getting ready to hit the ground running."

As is the case every spring, the Yankees have a hot-button issue to contend with. This year it may wind up being Alex Rodriguez's opt-out clause, which gained steam coinciding with the third baseman's promotional book tour this week in New York.

Cashman said that he is not putting serious thought into the possibility that the two-time Most Valuable Player could be playing his last season with the Yankees.

"It's just not something I'm going to be focusing on right now," he said. "We're focusing on getting the team ready for '07. We're not focusing on '08."

Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, suggested to the Associated Press that Rodriguez could secure a significant raise for 2008 and beyond by exercising the opt-out clause. Rodriguez is set to earn $72 million over the final three years of his contract.

Cashman said that there was little the Yankees could do to influence the end result of the clause, which was built into Rodriguez's original 10-year, $252 million contract, signed with the Texas Rangers.

"That's a decision for Alex," he said. "He negotiated that in good faith when he did his contract, and that's a right that he earned and bargained for. We'll just wait until the end and see what he has to say. If he opts out, he opts out."

With a core compiled by established returning players, the Yankees have a certain luxury of using Spring Training to showcase various young talents who were either promoted or acquired over the winter.

Cashman said that it was an "unlikely" scenario that top pitching prospect Phil Hughes would break camp with the Yankees, but noted that the respective bounties from the Randy Johnson and Gary Sheffield trades should be of particular interest.

"I think there are people in this organization that people are anxious to go in with and see what they've got," he said. "Those will be the more interesting stories -- who Alberto Gonzalez is, who Ross Ohlendorf is, Humberto Sanchez, Kevin Whelan, people like that; the new guys."

With those young players waiting in the wings, Cashman rejected the idea that talent has been stockpiled with thoughts of translating it into established Major League talent through trades.

For the moment, he said, the Yankees' farm replenishment can be taken at face value. That follows a pattern notably established with the promotion and subsequent successes of right-hander Chien-Ming Wang and second baseman Robinson Cano.

"I think we've demonstrated here in the last few years that we prefer to keep our players for ourselves," he said. "We're going to grow from within and go inward first before we decide to go outside. You have to have talent from within to do that, so hopefully, we've added enough choices to give us that ability."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.