Cashman sleeps on the street, says all is quiet on the free-agent front

NEW YORK -- Brian Cashman expected not to get much sleep Thursday night. But not because he's worrying about missing out on any big free-agent signings.

For the fifth consecutive year, the New York Yankees general manager planned to sleep outside in the blustery West 41st Street courtyard of Covenant House as part of an annual nationwide event to raise money to benefit homeless children and adolescents.

"I don't know how any human beings can deal with this on a daily, weekly, monthly basis," Cashman said. "There's no comfort on that ground. Even one night is terrible. With all the elements, with nature. It’s not right. No one should have to live like that."

Along with dozens of other participants, Cashman was heading out to his concrete bed with just a sleeping bag and his arm for a pillow. "The first year, I didn't get a wink of sleep," he said. "But after Year 1, I brought a sleeping pill with me. I don't know if that's cheating or not."

Cashman, did, however, have a cell phone, his lifeline to the rest of the baseball world. And he did admit that in past years, he has taken calls from agents and even proposed a trade or two.

But Cashman, citing collective bargaining agreement rules prohibiting GMs from discussing free-agent negotiations, could offer no specifics on what he might be able to get done from his chosen spot on the cold pavement. So far this winter, the Yankees have traded Francisco Cervelli for pitcher Justin Wilson, sold the rights to Zelous Wheeler to the Rakuten Golden Eagles, Masahiro Tanaka's former club, and added four minor leaguers -- outfielders Tyler Austin and Mason Williams and right-handers Danny Burawa and Branden Pinder -- to the 40-man roster.

Other than that, all quiet on the free-agent front.

"Lots of calls, lots of texts, but nothing to show for it yet," he said. “It’s certainly taking its time, but it’s been busy. Certainly a lot of conversations. Hopefully they’ll lead somewhere positive.”

In fact, so far the only real movement in the AL East was the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of former Yankee Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million deal earlier this week -- a move that didn't make Cashman's life any easier.

"Toronto got themselves a hell of a player," Cashman said. "I'm a Russell Martin fan. He's a great leader and a great catcher, there's no doubt about that. I know because we had him. I’d rather it not be them because they’re in our division."

As for the Yankees, Cashman said CBA rules precluded him from even admitting whether the Yankees will be players in the sweepstakes for one of the three elite pitchers on the market -- Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields -- or commenting on talks, if any, with David Robertson, Brandon McCarthy or Chase Headley, which are three free agents the Yankees are known to be interested in.

“I can restate clearly shortstop, maybe third base; the left side of the infield is definitely a priority," he said. "I think we have good pitching, but there’s obviously some volatility in it because of the health status and health histories of some of them. Those are two areas I would like to focus on. Bullpen, clearly with the Robertson circumstance, is an issue. That’s a handful, right off the bat. I can’t really say if any of the big-ticket items are in play or not in play. I’m just going to say we’re doing everything in our power to improve the club. Ownership has always been very beneficial with the resources to put the team on the field.”

Cashman said he still does not know officially if Hiroki Kuroda will pitch in 2015. He did say, "He's way too talented to give it up and retire," and added he still has yet to speak with Alex Rodriguez, although the two have exchanged texts. He also described Wheeler as "excited" over the opportunity to play full-time -- and earn a big-league paycheck -- in Japan next season.

Cashman hinted that anyone who thinks the Yankees' plan to go into 2015 with the same team as last year, minus Derek Jeter and with Rodriguez, might be making a premature judgment.

“It’s way too early to say what kind of team I’m going to have yet," Cashman said. "We’re not even into December yet. Let me get through mid-January and I’ll get a better feel of what kind of team I’m going to have and compare it to last year’s team. But I definitely have work to do, no doubt about that.”

But first, he had to have a sleepless Thursday night on a concrete floor in Manhattan, which certainly won't make his job any easier on Friday.

"I'll be a cranky Yankee tomorrow," he said.