Brian Cashman: Always on the job

Yankees' GM talks free agency, Jeter while rappeling down a building
11/30/2012 12:43 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Brian Cashman prepares for his practice rappel on Friday morning.(Anthony Buzzeo)
STAMFORD, Conn. – Over the last two weeks, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has jumped feet-first into the MLB free agency pool, re-signing a popular trio of veteran pitchers to one-year deals.

On Friday, however, Cashman was in Stamford, Conn., getting ready to jump feet first off the side of a 22-story building…again. Despite his own fear of heights, Cashman, along with former Red Sox skipper and Stamford native Bobby Valentine and several others, will be rappelling down the side of Stamford’s Landmark Building on Sunday evening as part of the city’s “Heights & Lights” holiday celebration, and the Yankees GM was here Friday to take part in a practice session that was chronicled live on the “FOX & Friends” morning show on FOX News Channel.

But even while dangling off the side of a building, Cashman, who is in his third straight year of participation in the event, wasn’t safe from the free agency talk; during the descent, one of the FOX & Friends hosts asked the GM if the rappel was a little harder due to him thinking about needing a catcher, now that Russell Martin has signed a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“I’m disappointed; (Martin) is a heck of a player and someone we really liked, but you can’t have them all and we have a lot of positions to fill,” Cashman said mid-rappel. “We’re getting after our pitching pretty good right now, and that’s been our focus … and he (Martin) was coming off the board quicker than we were willing to commit.”

But as quickly as that disappointment may have been revealed, Cashman did come right back by confirming some news that will make Yankees fans happy: the reports about Mariano Rivera are true, and “The Sandman” should officially be back in pinstripes very soon.

“We have agreed in principle, so we’re just working out the details on (a contract),” Cashman said, “but as you know, in New York, things leak a lot quicker than we announce. We’re excited to have Mariano back, and look forward to officially announcing that here shortly.”

After the rappel, Cashman talked a little more in depth with the media about the pitching situation, which in addition to Rivera’s return also so far includes one-year deals for Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda.

"I think Pettitte is a big thing," Cashman said. "Kuroda was a big thing. I think we're having a successful early campaign to our winter because we've able to retain some high-end, high-caliber starting pitching and if you look at the marketplace, I'm not sure if anyone is doing better than us right now. I think that we're doing really well early in the process, and I'm real happy about how our winter program is currently going."

Following Sunday’s event, Cashman will be flying to Nashville for the MLB Winter Meetings. With Martin gone, replacing the two-year backstop now becomes an official task, but Cashman said that investigating the potential vacancy in right field if Nick Swisher goes elsewhere is also high on the list.

“I'm a big Russell Martin fan,” Cashman reiterated, “but ultimately we have a lot of holes to fill and we have to be very careful how we spend our money. The market for Russell was aggressive as it should have been and again our focus has been our pitching, and we need to be careful how we allocate our remaining funds to make sure that we can fill all the holes."

But will the Yankees make a bold move, perhaps signing a marquee player like Josh Hamilton or Zack Greinke? Cashman didn’t rule it out, even with the team’s desire to move payroll below the $189 million luxury tax threshold in the future.

"We're capable of doing a lot of different things; we’re not out of the multiyear market,” the GM said. “We are not out of thinking big, looking at something big…and if you look at our numbers, we can still make certain things work. We will be aggressive when we want to be, under the right circumstances, but it's in our best interests to stay as flexible as possible given a lot of reasons and (the tax threshold is) obviously a big one."

Cashman also gave updates on a number of topics, including Derek Jeter, saying that “everything is going well” in The Captain’s rehab, and that “he’s going to be ready for us by Opening Day.”

As for zooming down a building next to a man who just eight weeks ago was a heated rival?

“(Bobby) is the world's biggest competitor. I knew he would be here on the top of the mountain with us this morning. It makes the show even better," Cashman said. “There is no bigger light in Stamford than Bobby. He has done everything in the world but this, and I'm glad he has had a chance to do it."

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