With the words, “And that concludes the Rule 5 Draft,” Brian Cashman was on his way out the door to catch a flight back to New York, completing the Yankees’ business here at the Winter Meetings.
The Yankees may not have made it to the podium here, as they did last year in announcing the Curtis Granderson three-way trade, but there was business done. The focus is now all on Cliff Lee, who has a seven-year contract offer to ponder — one that essentially puts the Yankees into a holding pattern as they wait for his decision.
Here’s a quick review of the Yankees’ week at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort:
Monday: Cashman is sequestered in his suite for most of the day and meets the media dressed in a hooded sweatshirt, a faded Yankees t-shirt, blue jeans and flip-flops, spinning a football on his knee … Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker, meets with a Yankees contingent that includes team president Randy Levine, but no offer is made … Cashman reveals that Andy Pettitte told him he is leaning toward retirement … He also hints there are “a number of different players” he is interested in … The Yankees speak with the agent for Kerry Wood but Cashman vows he won’t pay him “closer money,” and are interested in signing Alfredo Aceves to a Minor League deal … George M. Steinbrenner is among those not elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, receiving less than eight of the necessary 12 votes from the Veterans Committee.
Tuesday: Derek Jeter meets the media at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., thanking the team for his new contract while also saying he was “pretty angry” at how public the negotiations became … Jeter was upset by a perception of greed on his part and became incensed when the Yankees urged him to test the free agent market, having told them he only wanted to play for one team … Cashman acknowledges the pace of the Lee negotiations are going slower than he’d like and says pitching “is the key to the kingdom” … Hal Steinbrenner says he’s always willing to discuss being flexible with money … Cashman meets free agent Carl Crawford for dinner … In a press conference, Joe Torre thanks Steinbrenner for his 12 seasons managing the Yankees, calling it the “crown jewel” of his career.
Wednesday: The Yankees make their push for Lee, giving him a six-year, $140 million contract offer … Joe Girardi offers a spirited recommendation of Lee’s acquisition, calling him “important” to the Yankees’ championship hopes and “everything you’d want” … Braunecker leaves the Winter Meetings to deliver the bid to Lee at home in Arkansas … Cashman says all other business is on hold until Lee decides, including a Wood deal. He is confident of Lee’s potential impact, saying, “I know that we’re right on the player” … Brett Gardner has surgery to remove right wrist inflammation in New York. … Girardi notes that A.J. Burnett has already started working with new pitching coach Larry Rothschild to fix mechanical problems that led to his 10-15 season.
Thursday: Hearing that Crawford signed a seven-year, $142 million deal with Boston, Cashman shrugs in the hotel lobby and says he thought it would be the Red Sox or Angels getting him, while applauding Boston’s moves … the Yankees make one of their own, sweetening Lee’s offer with a seventh year … As the Rangers prepare to visit with Lee in Arkansas, Cashman departs Orlando for New York, promising he has no surprise visits up his sleeve — at least not today. … The Yankees take lefty Robert Fish (Angels) and righty Dan Turpen (Red Sox) in the Rule 5 Draft, while losing righty George Kontos (Padres) and righty Lance Pendleton (Astros).