Cashman: 'We'll have a closer in 2015'

Whether the Yankees closer will be David Robertson, Dellin Betances or someone else, well, that he's not so sure about.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman spoke for about 20 minutes after the first session of the GM meetings Monday evening in Phoenix, and as he usually does, he touched on a multitude of subjects, from his newly grown goatee to his ongoing search for coaches to replace Kevin Long and Mick Kelleher.

But the No. 1 topic of discussion was -- no, not Alex Rodriguez -- Robertson, who informed the Yankees earlier in the day he was rejecting the $15.3 million qualifying offer and would seek a longer-term deal as a free agent.

That doesn't mean, of course, that D-Rob's days in pinstripes are over; it appears the Yankees are still interested in negotiating with him and plan to meet with his agent, Scott Leventhal, this week in Phoenix.

But with Betances coming off a dominant rookie season and ready to step in if negotiations go south, and with a first-round draft pick coming to the Yankees should Robertson choose to sign elsewhere, anything can happen.

"I would have no clue what his market value is going to be," Cashman said. "Certainly, they’ll have an idea. They turned down the qualifying offer based on a lot of parameters, I’m sure, [and] some discussions they’ve already had. It’s hard to tell."

Cashman went on to enumerate the Yankees' other needs this winter -- namely, a shortstop to replace the retired Derek Jeter, a third baseman to back up or possibly replace the returning Alex Rodriguez and a starting pitcher to replace the (possibly) retiring Hiroki Kuroda. He also said something about having to "see what kind of money we have," as if such mundane concerns ever really trouble the New York Yankees.

But the bottom line, as everyone connected with the Yankees seems to like to say, is it's no slam dunk that Robertson will be back next season -- no more than it was for Robinson Cano, who admittedly commanded a lot more years and dollars than D-Rob will.

"Right now, we don’t have to name a closer for 2015 yet," Cashman said. "Let’s wait and see how the negotiations take with David before I start trying to worry about who that is going to have to be. We’ll have somebody closing games out in 2015. We hope whoever it is is the best candidate possible. We have some people you can give that opportunity to if we’re forced to internally, but let’s wait and see where the conversations take with David first and go from there.”

Among other subjects Cashman discussed:

On the health of Masahiro Tanaka: "Tanaka’s a question mark ... typically, the problems occur in the throwing program, when they get back on the mound in the rehab process. If you can get through that, and the rehab games, he should be okay. Obviously, he got through two major league starts. So that gives us hope. But there’s no guarantee."

On Kuroda's future: "I’ve talked to his agent. Kuroda’s process is he takes the early portion of the winter to relax and get his mind clear, and then at some point, kicks in about making a decision about playing -- playing in the states, playing in Japan. I think he’s probably still going through that mental cleansing process. But I’d be surprised if he doesn’t play."

On the possibility of pursuing Chase Headley as a free agent: “We’ve had a brief conversation. Chase is on our radar, but I think he’ll be on a lot of radars just like Robertson, just like [Brandon] McCarthy. These guys have all put themselves in a position to have successful conversations this winter. We’ll be a part of the process; whether we’re the ones they re-up with or not, I can't predict. We’re certainly looking forward to continuing the dialogue.”

On why the Yankees re-signed Chris Young: "[Yankees stats analysts] Steve Martone and Mike Fishman pushed for me to sign Chris. They felt, from an analytical standpoint, his year wasn’t as bad as it played out, that there was a potential bounce-back situation with it. We signed him up on what we think is a fair-market value, fourth-outfielder type contract. We wanted a right-handed bat with power, which doesn’t exist much in the game anymore, it seems like. He fit that category. Our coaches are comfortable with him, [and] he played well in the small sample that we had him in September, so he certainly earned the right to come back, and I’m glad that we both were able to find common ground.”

On the expectations for CC Sabathia: "Sabathia’s supposed to be fine. He had a knee cleanup. It’s just really, can he ever regain pitching at the front end of the rotation versus what we saw in the last year and a half? But he’ll be healthy."

On the candidates for next year's second base job: "[Rob] Refsnyder and [Jose] Pirela are going to take a shot in second base, if that’s the direction we choose. With [Martin] Prado’s versatility to play the outfield, second and third, it gives us a lot of flexibility."

And of course, on everyone's favorite third baseman-in-exile: "I’m not going to comment. There’s a lot of, obviously, new information since I spoke to you guys last, at least new from my perspective. I’ve seen the articles, but I’m not going to comment on that."

So what does the GM expect from his team in 2015?

"I do believe we have a chance, if we make a couple moves like we did in-season, if we can run into a few things we can target that will make us better, I think we can be right back in the playoff mix."