NEW YORK -- Now that the Yankees have an answer from Masahiro Tanaka, with the right-hander announcing last week that it was a "simple decision" to remain with the club for the next three seasons, general manager Brian Cashman can swing his full attention to the team's other offseason items of business.
With free agency officially opening on Monday, the Yankees prepared by holding organizational meetings in New York, during which the available players were addressed, along with the search for a new manager and possible changes to the coaching staff.
The Yankees figure to dabble in the free-agent market, as they have $71.4 million coming off the payroll in Todd Frazier, Matt Holliday, Michael Pineda, Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia. Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner has said that those funds will be re-invested into the team's payroll.
While a run at one or more of those players is possible (both Frazier and Sabathia said after Game 7 of the American League Championship Series that they hope to return), the Yankees also will look outside the organization as they aim to supplement their burgeoning young core of "Baby Bombers."
Biggest potential free-agent loss: Now that Tanaka has opted to remain in pinstripes through the 2020 season, the most prominent departure in free agency could be Sabathia, who has been a cornerstone of the roster since his arrival in 2009. Sabathia was the Yanks' stopper in 2017, going 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 10 regular-season starts following a team loss. Overall, he was 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 27 starts, then posted a 2.37 ERA in four postseason starts. Sabathia recently said on a Players' Tribune podcast that, "If my run is up here -- like Joe [Girardi] -- I had a great time."
Potential free-agent targets: A run at Japanese pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani appears likely; Cashman and a Yankees contingent flew 6,000 miles during the heat of a division race to see the "Japanese Babe Ruth" play for the Nippon Ham Fighters in August. Other pitchers of interest include Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Yu Darvish and Lance Lynn, as well as a potential continuation of Sabathia's time with the club. Offensively, third baseman Mike Moustakas has seen his name linked to the Yanks, though Chase Headley remains under contract. The Yanks haven't ruled out a return engagement with Frazier, who'd love to remain close to his New Jersey home.
Wild card scenario: With Derek Jeter saying that the Marlins will attempt to reduce payroll for the upcoming season, it's hard not to fantasize about a scenario in which the Yankees could call upon some of their farm system depth to swing a trade for Giancarlo Stanton. Imagine Stanton and Aaron Judge in the same outfield. One stumbling block would be that Cashman has said that the Yankees will be under the $197 million payroll mark for 2018, resetting their luxury tax rate for what many expect will be runs at Manny Machado and/or Bryce Harper in 2018-19. Stanton has 10 years and $295 million guaranteed on his contract.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.