Brian Cashman is looking for a shortstop with “urgency,” but he hasn’t determined whether “it will be in a big way, a small way, an acceptable way? We’ll see.”
What the Yankees general manager does know, though, is that Joey Gallo is expected back in left field despite a rough debut in The Bronx.
“He didn’t play as well as he’s capable of playing,’’ Cashman said. “It’s not easy transferring from one city to another. It’s a new experience for him. I believe he’s very talented. Hopefully the two- or three-month experience with us benefits him as he enters his free-agency walk year.”
And he doesn’t think Gallo is ill-suited to playing in The Bronx.
“I don’t want to say there’s a concern. I think you’re gonna see a much better version of him, but that’s not saying much. He hit .190 with us,” Cashman said of Gallo, who actually hit just .160 in 58 games. “He struggled by his admission … and fact. But he’s a threat every time up at the plate and I would bet we’ll see a much improved version of him next year for us. I feel very confident in saying that because he’s that talented. I expect him to be there, if that’s what you’re asking.”
The rest of the roster is not as cut and dry — especially at short.
There’s an elite free-agent class of shortstops, including Carlos Correa and Corey Seager — among others — but the Yankees remain bullish on two of their top prospects, Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza, who both play the position.
Asked if he kept them in mind while looking for a new shortstop, Cashman said, “You have to. You know you have some guys who are on the come that you think highly of. … You always want to hold on to the best of the best if you can.”
He added he’s not interested in signing one of the premier shortstops with the idea of moving them to a different position in a year or two if either prospect is ready to break through.
That leaves the Yankees heading into Friday’s deadline to protect minor leaguers from the Rule 5 draft with some decisions to make. It’s a process they got “burned badly” on last season, according to Cashman, when the Red Sox took Garrett Whitlock from them and the right-hander emerged as a key member of their bullpen.
This year, they have as many as five prospects who could be snatched by another team and no extra room on their 40-man roster.
Cashman will no doubt try to free up some space with moves by Friday’s deadline, but he spent Thursday night in Midtown participating at the Covenant House Sleep Out for an 11th straight year to benefit the center that aids youth overcoming homelessness.
After Friday’s deadline, the Yankees and the rest of baseball will be staring at a potential lockout on Dec. 2, when the collective bargaining agreement is set to expire.
As managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said Wednesday, Cashman is also operating as “business as usual,” and despite having made just one signing — bringing back left-hander Joely Rodriguez on a one-year, $2 million deal — he’s “open for business.”
He’s also looking for as many as three hitting coaches to replace Marcus Thames and PJ Pilittere, who were both let go after the season, as well as another pitching coach, which would also give the team three pitching coaches, which Cashman said is in line with new industry standards.
He added that Aaron Hicks has been cleared to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic next month in an effort to “knock some rust off” after missing much of the season following wrist surgery.
Cashman said the Yankees sent a strength coach to see Hicks in Arizona and the center fielder “looks great.”
Still, Cashman remains in the market for adding a center fielder, since Hicks hasn’t been able to remain healthy.
As for the impending lockout, Cashman said those talks were “above my pay grade” and he wasn’t letting it impact his decision-making.
“I don’t have a deadline,’’ Cashman said. “Whether we get a big fish or not remains to be seen. We’re casting a wide net: the biggest and the baddest and teeny-weeny ones, too. As long as it somehow makes us better in our mind and it plays that way, that’s the biggest thing.”