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Yanks haven't yet met with free agents

Yanks haven't yet met with free agents

CHICAGO -- Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Monday that he doesn't expect to have any of his seven free agents signed before the 15-day exclusivity period ends on Nov. 19.

That list includes World Series heroes Hideki Matsui, Andy Pettitte and Johnny Damon, plus Eric Hinske, Jerry Hairston Jr., Jose Molina and Xavier Nady. Hinske and Hairston were late-season additions to the team. Nady missed most of the year with an elbow injury.

Matsui, Damon, Hinske, Molina and Nady all filed for free agency on Monday, leaving Pettitte and Hairston outstanding.

"It's doubtful, I just know that at these meetings, no," Cashman told the media as the GMs gathered in a local airport hotel for their annual meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday. "As far as the exclusivity period is concerned, I hate to rule it out. I hate to say no and find out that in 10 days things have developed with someone. But right now, I'd have to also say probably not."

Cashman said he's had no discussions with any of the agents for his players since the Yanks defeated the Phillies for their 27th World Series title last Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.

And he doesn't expect those discussions to begin until the Yankees have their organizational meetings in Tampa, Fla., shortly after the GM meetings conclude.

Cashman also said he doesn't expect to be as aggressive in the free-agent market as he was after last season, when the Yanks signed Mark Teixeira ($180 million), CC Sabathia ($161 million) and A.J. Burnett ($82.5 million) to multiyear contracts.

"Last year, we had very specific needs," Cashman said. "This year, we're going to approach things a lot differently."

Of the big three pending free agents, Matsui and Damon have already said they'd like to re-sign with the Yankees and Pettitte said he hasn't yet determined whether he wants to play baseball again in 2010.

Because of a large Japanese media contingent in town for these meetings, many of the questions were about Matsui, who was named MVP of the World Series after hitting .615 (8-for-13) with three homers and eight RBIs, six of them in the final game to tie a 49-year-old World Series record set by another Yankees player, Bobby Richardson.

Cashman, though, held his cards close to the vest.

"He's a great player," Cashman said about Matsui. "When we went to Japan [in 2002] and signed him, it was with the dream that he'd come over and help us win a World Series. Now that he's done it, I couldn't be happier for him or for us. He's a great player. We knew what we had when we first signed him, and that hasn't changed just because he was named MVP of the World Series."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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