Yankees weighing options on Cabrera

Yankees weighing options on Cabrera

NEW YORK -- The Yankees' fantasy of fitting Miguel Cabrera for pinstripes is a tantalizing one, but the reality of parting with top pitching talent as bait could hinder the process.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman set out to gauge the market to replace third baseman Alex Rodriguez during this week's General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla., and perhaps the largest development is that the Marlins appear primed to deal the talented 24-year-old Cabrera.

Florida will have numerous choices and destinations if it indeed moves Cabrera -- a lifetime .313 hitter who has already won a World Series and been selected to four National League All-Star teams.

Cabrera would represent perhaps the most ready-made replacement for Rodriguez, the probable 2007 American League MVP who effectively ended his association with the Yankees when he opted out of his contract during Game 4 of the World Series.

The New York Daily News reported that Cashman met with the Marlins at about 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday. But the price for Cabrera, who will be eligible for free agency after the 2009 season, could be too high for the Yankees to stomach.

Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, the newspaper reported that the Yankees would have to include either Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain or Ian Kennedy in any trade for Cabrera.

That could be a deal breaker for the Yankees, who have developed their pitching program and are reluctant to part with the hurlers, all of whom contributed on the Major League level this season. Cashman told reporters he would be "hard pressed" to deal young talent.

"I think our farm system has taken the right steps forward. There's power in numbers," Cashman told the AP. "We'll soak up all the information down here and then we'll take it back to New York and kind of assess what the real potential market is for us."

The Yankees' offer to Florida could revolve around a secondary tier of prospects, but that may not be enough to interest the Marlins. Cabrera is expected to earn more than $10 million in salary arbitration, which is thought to be too formidable for the modest Marlins budget.

Yankees executive vice president Hank Steinbrenner told the AP on Tuesday that the team was not aware of Florida's asking price.

"We don't know yet. We'll probably know by [Tuesday evening]," Steinbrenner said. "My sense is that it might be too much, but we'll see. It's early."

Cabrera is coming off a season in which he batted .320, while collecting career highs in home runs (34) and RBIs (119). Issues have developed about his conditioning, as maintaining his weight has become a concern. With his size, he is in danger of outgrowing the third-base position, where he committed 23 errors and had a .941 fielding percentage.

Cabrera, who earned $7.45 million this year, is already the third-fastest player in Major League history to reach the 500-RBI plateau. A .313 lifetime hitter, he had his best season in 2006 under new Yankees manager Joe Girardi, batting .339 to finish second in the league and win his second consecutive Silver Slugger Award.

If the season were to begin today, the Yankees' third baseman would likely be Wilson Betemit, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers for reliever Scott Proctor before the trade deadline in July. Betemit was coveted by the Yankees for more than a year, but he batted just .226 in 84 at-bats for New York in limited duty.

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