Though Steinbrenner draped his arms around $243.5 million in future salary commitments on Thursday in the Stadium Club, posing for photographs with the new members of the Yankees' pitching rotation, New York is still on track to lower its payroll for 2009.
The Yankees had more than $80 million come off the books at the end of their 89-win 2008 season, bidding farewell to free agents Mike Mussina, Jason Giambi, Ivan Rodriguez and Carl Pavano.
Said Cashman: "You can't stop swinging for the fences."
That could leave room for the fascinating case of Ramirez, a lethal bat in need of a new home after forcing his way out of Boston en route to a new beginning in Los Angeles.
The Yankees do not specifically have a need for a corner outfielder with Johnny Damon, Xavier Nady and perhaps Hideki Matsui all on board, but they would love to add a player who can provide top-notch protection for Alex Rodriguez in the order.
Ramirez has thus far seen only one offer cross his plate, a two-year, $45 million pact from the Dodgers that was later rescinded. The Yankees could top that with a three-year pact if so inclined, but Ramirez's market is not likely to move until first baseman Mark Teixeira signs somewhere.
"We're going to stay in it until we're satisfied that we've made as many improvements as we can afford or possibly do," Steinbrenner said. "It's day by day at this point, it really is."
With a rotation of Sabathia, Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain, the Yankees are turning their attention to retaining Andy Pettitte to round out the starting five.
Pettitte was offered a one-year, $10 million pact by the Yankees, but his representatives, Randy and Alan Hendricks, have discouraged the left-hander from accepting such a large pay cut from the $16 million he earned in 2007 and 2008.
"Andy's a free agent, and the one thing I've been consistent in saying is that we'd like to have Andy back," Cashman said. "I know he'd like to come back. That's set up for maybe a positive end result. It doesn't guarantee it."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he has spoken recently with Pettitte, and has consistently relayed that he wants him to pitch at the new Yankee Stadium in 2009.
"He's still excited about coming back, and they continue to talk to him," Girardi said. "Obviously it takes time. These things don't happen overnight. He was very excited about the additions and he wants to be here."
Cashman visited with Pettitte in Houston last Thursday on his way home from the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, but called it a discussion and not a negotiating session.
Cashman said he told Pettitte of the team's progress with Sabathia and Burnett and expressed the organization's sentiment.
"I know he'd like to be here, and I know we'd like to have him here," Cashman said. "Sometimes things take longer. It doesn't mean they're going to happen. He's been a tremendous Yankee and I've got all the respect in the world for him."