Rumors to this effect were brewing yesterday, but I held off on posting anything on it because it seemed to be coming mostly from agents. Dan Barbirisi just added some details however and, well, read for yourself:
In a situation that highlights how much has changed for the big-budget Yankees, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman came to the winter meetings in Nashville with his hands so fully tied that he lacked the authority to make offers to free agents.
The situation was first brought to light by agent Scott Boras, who quietly suggested Wednesday that Cashman lacked the power to make offers.
On Thursday, people within the Yankees organization confirmed that this was in fact true: Cashman arrived in Nashville unable to make offers to players, and without that power, targets like Jeff Keppinger and Eric Chavez took deals elsewhere.
Another Yankee official downplayed the seriousness of the situation, saying that most general managers would have to go back to ownership to vet potential deals.
“What does Scott Boras know? Are you kidding me?” the official said, arguing that Boras is trying to stir things up because he lacks good markets for his players. “The only reason that Cash didn’t have the authority at that point, if you want to use the word authority, is that he wasn’t making any offers, there was nobody out there that he thought, at these prices, that he should make offers on.”
But another official confirmed that this represents a departure for the Yankees, who have given Cashman more authority in the past.
I don't know exactly what to make of this, yet, but suffice it to say the idea that this is commonplace is absurd. General managers may need to rope in ownership on major/long term signings or moves hat may be controversial for one reason or another, but the idea that they can't make mundane acquisitions within their budgetary framework is ridiculous. Far more likely is that ownership is focused on dollars and cents more than anything else right now, even before the 2014 budget ostensibly goes into effect. That is, of course, assuming that this report is accurate.