Cashman: We can't replace A-Rod

NEW YORK -- With Alex Rodriguez appealing his 211-game suspension in the Biogenesis case, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman dismissed the theory he would rather have A-Rod's $25 million wage come off the books in 2014 than see the third baseman win his case against baseball and remain on the active roster.

Speaking on ESPN Radio's "The Ian O'Connor Show" Sunday, Cashman maintained the Yankees want Rodriguez back on the field even if his restored salary would complicate the team's attempt to reduce payroll under the luxury tax threshold of $189 million.

"If it comes down to, would we want the player we signed to be playing that position without any problems? Absolutely, no question about that," Cashman said. "I think if people think there's some sort of benefit by losing that talent, I mean, you can't replace it. It's not like, all right, well, Alex is gone. If he winds up getting suspended and it's upheld, how do you replace that? It's not easy.

"It's not like, all right, we'll take that money and go in this direction. I think ... our fan base saw when we lost significant players at various positions, it was not easy to plug holes because the talent just doesn't exist."

Limited by injuries, the 38-year-old Rodriguez hit .244 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs in 44 games with the Yankees. A-Rod's 654 career homers leave him six shy of Willie Mays' career total and a $6 million bonus negotiated into his 10-year, $305 million deal signed after the 2007 season.

"It's not like going down to a Home Depot and pulling something out that you need that's broke and you've got to fix it," Cashman said of replacing Rodriguez. "So ultimately from a baseball operations standpoint, taking out all the areas of controversy, having Alex Rodriguez man third base is obviously by far the best option for the Yankees than what the alternatives would be in theory."

Cashman also said on "The Ian O'Connor Show" that he thought the Chicago Cubs were "a real threat" to steal away Joe Girardi, who ultimately re-signed with the Yankees for four years and $16 million.

On whether he believes he can keep free agent Robinson Cano, who has asked for more than $300 million over 10 years, the GM said, "I don't have a gut [feeling], I really don't.

"We'd certainly like that to happen, but the better you are at something, the more options and opportunities you create, and he's certainly going to create a lot of opportunities for himself. ... [Cano] should have a lot of interest because he's obviously the best at that position."