Moments after dangling off the side of the Landmark Building in downtown Stamford, Brian Cashman gave a few details into his meeting with free-agent pitching target Patrick Corbin Friday.
“Hopefully it was educational for him and his wife Jen as they go through their tour circuit of various cities to get a better lay of the land as they go through their decision-making process,” said Cashman from the building’s rooftop. “At least they’re in a better position about the New York Yankees. Obviously we’ll continue. I stay engaged with the free agent market as well as the trade market, trying to address our needs.
“They’re good people,” said Cashman. The Yankees GM would not say who reached out to whom for Thursday’s meeting, saying he’d prefer to “leave that alone.”
Cashman said he gave the Corbins a tour of the Yankee facilities, explained what it’s like to play in New York with such media demands, as well as took the young couple, who just got married a couple weeks ago, out to dinner as well.
Cashman wouldn’t give any indication where the Corbins — who met with the Phillies and Nationals earlier in the week as he makes his way up the Northeast corridor — were in terms of making a decision, but did say that getting to know the Yankees was key for the newlyweds.
“I know that this was an important part of their process,” said Cashman, who was meeting Corbin for the first time Thursday, but has gotten reports on him over time from Yankee bullpen coach Mike Harkey, who was formerly Corbin’s pitching coach in Arizona. “For some people it’s not part of the process and for some people it is. But I can’t predict time frame. They’re the ones that have that.
“All I can say is that he left here knowing a lot more about us than when he arrived,” said Cashman.
“It’s not a recruiting machine for us, it’s more of an educational process.”
Cashman says the Yankees certainly aren’t waiting for Corbin to make his decision and are actively looking to address their areas of need, stressing starting pitching, the bullpen and middle infield help, with Didi Gregorius likely sidelined for a good chuck of next season after having Tommy John surgery.
“There’s a lot of players of interest to us,” said Cashman when asked if Corbin was his primary target. “Both in free agency and trade, so I wouldn’t designate anyone as a primary.”
The acquisition of James Paxton, says Cashman, prevents the Yankees from being in a “need to, have to desperate situation,” to better access the market from a more “comfortable” position.
“We’re in a strong position because of Paxton, than before Paxton,” said Cashman.
“Again there’s a lot of attractive players that are available at various price points. That’s why we’re in engaged with all of those caliber of players.”
“We need to continue to address the rotation, yes, but we all know how important the bullpen is in today’s game,” said Cashman. “We also can’t minimize the loss of Didi, and how that impacts us.
“If you’re in the bullpen mix, the starting pitching mix or the middle-infield mix, I’d say that I’m pretty active.”
One spot of levity on the frigid rooftop was when Cashman was asked if he’d heard the report of Corbin’s brother putting a Yankees cap on the free agent’s head at his recent wedding.
“I did,” said Cashman with a slight smile. “My understanding is (Corbin’s family are) all Yankee fans. Just because they might have a rooting interest by bringing him closer to home or have family closer to home I don’t think is going to … their Yankee allegiances are appreciated, but usually in this process typically the thing that’s most important are the financial opportunities that exist and various locales weigh heavily.”
Corbin grew up in upstate New York and attended Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
“At the very least it’s good to know we have people rooting for us,” added Cashman.
As he has done for several years now, the Yankee GM repelled down the 22-story building in a training session for Sunday’s Heights and Lights program kicking off Stamford’s holiday season.
A year ago at this event, the Yankees hired Aaron Boone as their manager. But free-agent signings and necessary trades take a bit more time.
“If I could have waved a magic wand and had our areas of need solved I would have done it by now,” said Cashman. “It’s tough to find matches, whether it’s the trade market or free agent market.
“Hopefully sooner or later will be able to show something for it.
AROUND THE HORN
— The Yankees have yet to speak to the agents for Gregorius, Dellin Betances or Aaron Hicks about offering extensions, though Cashman did say “it’s something that we’re definitely going to look at and explore.”
— Cashman said there were about 11 teams that have expressed interest in Sonny Gray since the GM made it clear the struggling starter would likely not be back in 2019.
“They’re dropping different ideas,” said Cashman. “It’s taken time to vet all this stuff.”
— Cashman confirmed the Yankees will tender Gray, saying and emphatic “Hell yeah,” into the mic.