Cashman potential GM candidate

After new owners for the Washington, D.C., franchise are selected, they will consider a range of general manager candidates to replace Omar Minaya, and one name that will likely come up will be an experienced executive with ties to the area -- and four championship rings.

Brian Cashman, the Yankees' GM, has a contract that expires at the end of next season.

Cashman had thought about leaving the Yankees after the 2001 season in large part because of the unrelenting tension with owner George Steinbrenner. Friends say Cashman is now ready to leave the Yankees.

"I have a job so I wouldn't be able to talk about it," Cashman said. "It would be inappropriate for me to do so."

Cashman attended Georgetown Prep in Rockville, Md., and is a graduate of Catholic University, which is located in Washington.

Minaya, the general manager of the Montreal Expos for the past three seasons, reportedly will become head of baseball operations for the Mets next season.

Cashman took over as GM of the Yankees in February, 1998. Since then, he's had an often tumultuous relationship with Steinbrenner.

When Cashman negotiated his current contract he insisted that language be written into the deal ensuring he could take a yearly family vacation without being interrupted by Steinbrenner's many calls for him to come to work.

They've had well-documented blowups and confrontations. During the eighth inning of Game 6 of last year's World Series, Steinbrenner -- who had told Cashman during the first round of the playoffs that he was overrated and should think about getting a job with the Mets -- stalked down to Cashman's box with the game still in progress and said, "Meeting in Tampa Monday and it's not going to be pleasant."

In December, the New York Post published a story during the winter meetings detailing Cashman's unhappiness and his hope that he could leave the team after the 2004 season. Hours later Cashman received a phone call from a Post reporter informing him that Steinbrenner had exercised his option for 2005; this is how Cashman learned he would be retained as the Yankees' GM. It wasn't until hours later that Howard Rubenstein, a public relations representative for Steinbrenner informed Cashman officially on behalf of the club.

If Cashman departed, he could be another in a long line of executives and managers who left Steinbrenner's Yankees and thrived -- like Pat Gillick, Tal Smith, Brian Sabean, Jim Bowdon and Buck Showalter.

Baseball officials believe that the Yankees' high-intensity atmosphere is a perfect training ground.

Whether Cashman becomes a candidate will depend on how quickly the ownership of the D.C. franchise is identified and whether the team would be willing to wait for Cashman. If ownership was selected in the middle of next season, for example, it would be only a few months before Cashman became available.

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. His book, "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty," is a New York Times best seller and can be ordered through HarperCollins.com.