As expected, the GM meetings wrapped up yesterday without any major deals being made or news being broken. The biggest stories were about things that didn't happen or aren't happening, like Masahiro Tanaka still not being posted, no market coming together for Robinson Cano yet, and a potential David Freese trade not materializing. Still, the Yankees were the most active club of the bunch this week, showing up in full force and scheduling meetings with all their top free agent targets. They didn't come away with any commitments but they did position themselves as the favorites for more than a few of the available big names. Along with establishing that favorable position, here's a few other things this week's meetings taught us. 1) Hal Is Leading The Charge
He's still banging the "committed to a championship-caliber team" drum and hitting all his "goal not a mandate" catchphrases when discussing the team's payroll plans, but he was doing it on location at the meetings rather than from his office. Hal has taken a much more aggressive, hands-on approach to this offseason. It actually started months back when he scheduled the organizational meeting of the minds on the MiL issues and it continued this week when he was front and center at the GM meetings and proactive in setting up and conducting some of the sitdowns with agents. He also spoke to the media on a wide variety of offseason issues and it appears as though he's the driving force behind a lot of what the Yankees are trying to do.
2) The Yanks Are In on Everybody
Not literally, but damn close. The Yankees met with agents for Brian McCann, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, and Jacoby Ellsbury this week, they've been far ahead of every other team from the beginning on Tanaka, they've got feelers out on a bunch of other pitchers, and they have reported interest in multiple middle infielders. The team has said it's operating as if Alex Rodriguez will be back and in the lineup next season, which makes their widely cast net of interest a little surprising. There's no way they can sign 2 or 3 of the bigger names and still stay under the luxury tax threshold with A-Rod's money on the books, so maybe there's some other strategic angle in play here. But give the Yanks credit, they're leaving no stone unturned. Right now they're connected in some way to the top 5 MLBTR free agents, 8 of the top 10, and 15 of the top 20.
3) They Value Defense
Particularly infield defense. The Yanks are once again planning on making a run at Stephen Drew as insurance and possibly the full-time starter at shortstop. They've also checked in on Jhonny Peralta and Omar Infante and they're reportedly "close" to a new deal with Brendan Ryan. Now not every one of those guys is a Gold Glove-caliber defender, but they're all better defensive options at short than everybody's favorite 40-year-old and they'd probably be better at the hot corner than A-Rod. With the offensive focus elsewhere on the field, the primary objective on the infield looks to be shoring up the defensive void on the left side.
4) They've Put A Premium on Pitching
They'd like a solid shortstop option to back up Jeter, they want to upgrade in right field, and they really want to upgrade behind the plate. But all 3 of those priorities fall in line behind the need to improve their pitching staff. Cash came right out and said it earlier this week, stating that he needs to replace 400 innings in the starting rotation. There's plenty of organizational depth for the back end but the Yanks don't appear to be content on letting those guys duke it out for important rotation spots. They're looking for 2 starters and they'll probably take more if they can get them at a decent price. They also aren't resting on what they've got in the bullpen, putting off naming D-Rob the new closer and looking for a more proven option. They know pitching wins championships, they lost a lot of it from the rotation and the 'pen, and they've made replenishing it the top priority this offseason.