Grand plan begins at GM meetings

Brian Cashman will finally get some offseason clarity beginning Monday. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Yankees GM Brian Cashman will gain a little clarity on his offseason plan beginning Monday in Orlando. By 5 p.m., Curtis Granderson will inform the team whether he will accept the Yankees' $14.1 million qualifying offer. While most officials believe Granderson will turn it down, if he doesn't, then the Yankees will have their first definite of the offseason.

If he declines and ends up signing with another team, the Yankees will receive a sandwich pick between the first and second round in the next draft.

Robinson Cano and Hiroki Kuroda are expected to turn down their qualifying offers as well. If Kuroda decides he wants to stay, the Yankees could work out a one-year deal for a little more dough. In the middle of last November, the Yankees inked Kuroda to a one-year deal, $15 million contract. They would love to do that again.

With this said, let's look at what else is on tap this week.

1. THE BIG BOARD*: From talking with Yankees officials, agents and executives around MLB, this is how I would project the Yankees' Big Board to look like:

1. Robinson Cano

2. Hiroki Kuroda

3. Masahiro Tanaka

4. Brian McCann

5. Carlos Beltran

6. Shin-Soo Choo

7. Stephen Drew/Jhonny Peralta

8. Grant Balfour

2. * SUBJECT TO CHANGE: The Yankees may be cutting payroll to under $189 million, but as we outlined nearly a month ago, they have a plan that could see them spend in excess of $300 million. That said, the grandest of plans have to be altered during the winter because of circumstances.

So let's say, for argument's sake, Cano leaves as a free agent. Then suddenly, the Yankees will have not spent around $180-200 million over eight years ($22.5 million-$25 million per season) and they will have a huge hole in the lineup from the left side.

Since Joe Morgan is 70 years old, there is no one to sign to replace Cano as a home run-hitting, left-handed second baseman. So perhaps the Yankees ink Choo for the outfield. His OPS last season was .885, which was near Cano's .899. Cano slugged .516, while Choo was at .462. Then they pick up Omar Infante for second. Still, with the leftover money, they could make sure to beat out Texas, Boston and everyone else for McCann.

If they sign Cano, I doubt they go for Choo, too. Beltran, under a shorter-term contract, would be more to their liking, along with McCann. With all this said, let's emphasize again the offseason is not linear.

3. HAL IN ORLANDO: By midweek, Hal Steinbrenner should be in town for the owners' portion of the GM meetings. If Hal speaks, he will surely reiterate that $189 million is a goal, not a mandate, though it is evident the Yankees are going to make sure they fall below that figure.

He also will detail first-hand why he gave Derek Jeter extra money when he didn't have to. One Yankees insider said it was a classic move by Jeter and his agent, Casey Close, to go over Cashman's head and work with Hal to get the extra cash. In effect, it makes Cashman's job harder this offseason, because that extra $2.5 million could have come in handy at some point.

4. TRADES: The GM meetings can be where trades heat up. In 2010, the talks eventually sent Granderson to the Yankees. So Cashman and his lieutenants will talk, but they will have to be very creative if they are to accomplish anything significant quickly.