NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Winter Meetings kicked off with general manager Brian Cashman making a trip to the podium for the wrong reason, coming straight from the airport to announce that Alex Rodriguez is heading for left hip surgery and could be lost for four to six months.
The Meetings concluded on Thursday, and Cashman checked out of the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center with his offseason still very much unsettled. The Yankees extended a one-year, $12 million offer to Kevin Youkilis, but they seemed unable to do much else during their stay in Music City.
"I don't feel like we're not having a productive winter," Cashman said. "I feel like we're being deliberate and we are being slow. Every one of your missed opportunities, that stuff happens. But when the dust settles, we're going to be a team that people aren't going to be comfortable playing."
The Yanks' contingent will head back to New York pondering the same problems that they arrived with. They need a fill-in for A-Rod at third base, a corner outfielder to replace departing free agent Nick Swisher, and perhaps also an upgrade over their current crop of catching help.
Though the Yankees had interest in several of the players who came off the free-agent board at the Winter Meetings, Cashman said that the club never actually made offers to any of those names.
That includes Eric Chavez, a Yanks reserve for the past two years who inked a one-year, $3 million deal with the D-backs, and Jeff Keppinger, who agreed with the White Sox for three years and $12 million.
Outfielder Nate Schierholtz also could have been a fit for the Yankees, as he found Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch appealing, but he instead chose a one-year, $2.25 million deal from the Cubs.
With ownership looking to reduce payroll beneath $189 million for 2014, the Yanks have appeared handcuffed at times, though obviously their offer to Youkilis seems generous: it needs to be, if Youkilis is to be steered away from a reported two-year offer by the Indians.
Cashman said that none of the transactions completed at the Winter Meetings appealed to him financially, and likely wouldn't have even if his budget was made up of blank checks.
"So far what's transpired, I wouldn't do, in terms of what's happened this particular week," Cashman said. "Players have come off the board; those opportunities I'm comfortable with."
Cashman noted that statement didn't necessarily apply to catcher Russell Martin, who recently inked a two-year, $17 million deal with the Pirates that the Yankees were unable to match.
"I liked Martin," Cashman said, "but regardless, this week, I'm OK. I think Pittsburgh got a good one."
There have been suggestions that Cashman has lacked the authority from ownership to offer contracts, but the GM called his communication with his bosses "consistent and strong," and said that he knows "what I can do and what I can't do."
Cashman reiterated that though the market seems flush with money from other clubs, he doesn't believe the free-agent talent pool is exceptionally deep. That suggests the trade market ultimately could be the best avenue for the Yanks to improve upon what they have.
"I certainly have been busy with a lot of ideas," Cashman said. "That's not unusual, that's part of the process. There's a lot of time between now and first pitch. There's no games tomorrow. We're going to keep going at it, and having patience isn't a bad thing either."
Deals done: The Yankees did not complete a transaction during the Winter Meetings. They arrived in Nashville having already secured one-year deals with pitchers Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera.
Rule 5 Draft activity: The Yanks did not select or lose any players in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.
Goals accomplished: Wary of offering multiyear contracts because of their 2014 budget, the Yankees seemed to be on the sidelines during the Winter Meetings. Cashman said that he has "definitely thrown a lot of ideas around, more so on the trade side than on the free-agent side," but the club is known to have met with the agent for infielder Mark Reynolds -- possibly as a backup plan if Youkilis goes elsewhere.
Unfinished business: The Yanks will wait for a response from Youkilis, and continue to gauge the market for a corner outfielder. Though A.J. Pierzynski's name was floated, Cashman and manager Joe Girardi both say that it is likely they already have their Opening Day starting catcher in Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart or Austin Romine.
Team's bottom line: "We have to constantly remind ourselves that we have a lot of talent, and that allows us to be patient -- and that patience has helped us a great deal the last number of years. That patience has gotten us a number of players. Our pro scouting department has done a tremendous job of time on short-term January signings, and we've benefited from that, so I'm not afraid of January. I'm not afraid of February." -- Cashman