Steinbrenners want answer from GM Cashman by next week
Brian Cashman was asked by the Steinbrenners to respond by next week to their offer to return as Yankees general manager, according to people familiar with the situation.
Cashman's current three-year, $5.5 million contract doesn't expire until Oct. 31, but the Yankees' owners don't want the issue to linger, not with a roster overhaul in the offing. The Steinbrenners prefer Cashman to commit to them before they present him with a new contract for a significant raise.
Most baseball people believe that for a variety of reasons, including an excellent working relationship with Hank Steinbrenner's younger, quieter brother Hal, Cashman will choose to return to the job he's held for 11 years. Cashman is expected to give both Steinbrenners his answer as early as next Monday or Tuesday. Negotiations on his new deal would begin the moment Cashman provides the go-ahead and are not expected to take long.
There has been speculation for months that Cashman could be intrigued by any one of a number of potential GM openings, including one in Seattle, another in Philadelphia (Pat Gillick has said he's retiring), and possibly a third in Washington (although Jim Bowden is still hanging in there). And if Cashman chooes not to remain with the Yankees, a few more opportunities could be opened up for him. Yet people close to the team still expect Cashman to stay.
Yankees people are anxious to commence what's likely to be an extreme makeover after missing the playoffs for the first time since long before Cashman became GM (only one Yankee defeat or Red Sox victory will ensure a quite October for the Yankees). So they want an answer by sometime next week, the first week of a postseason that will not involve them.
Cashman, who won three World Series rings and made the playoffs his first 10 years as Yankees GM, had a rocky 11th season as Yankees GM, enduring a lot of public posturing and criticizing by Hank Steinbrenner as the team, including most veteran stars and heralded younger players, badly underperformed expectations. Hank last winter overruled Cashman's recommendations not to go beyond eight years for Alex Rodriguez or three years for Jorge Posada and has second-guessed the ultimate call not to surrender pitching prospects Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and outfielder Melky Cabrera for star pitcher Johan Santana.
However, people around the team suggest they believe Cashman, who always had a tough Steinbrenner to work for, will instead recall the positives of working with the Yankees, which include the player payroll and prestige. The Yankees' move to the new Yankee Stadium might also be a lure.
Hal Steinbrenner recently told Newsday, "He knows that we're with him, that we want him back.'' SI.com reported last winter that the Yankees made a play to try to extend Cashman's contract and again on Aug. 13 that the Yankees still wanted him back, despite the difficulties of the 2008 season.