Cashman, Yanks complete three-year deal
New York general manager will enter 15th season in position
NEW YORK -- Brian Cashman is prepared to continue tackling the job he has held since 1998, agreeing Tuesday to a three-year contract extension that will keep him in position as the Yankees' general manager.
Cashman's previous deal expired at 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, but neither he nor the Yankees were concerned about reaching an agreement. Cashman openly said that he expected a deal to be reached by Halloween and that he wanted to return.
"If you do what you love and you're a part of a situation that you enjoy, you get re-energized on an everyday basis," Cashman said. "You're trying to pull in the same direction where things are going good or bad."
Over the course of his time with the Yankees, Cashman has earned five World Series rings -- including four as general manager -- becoming the first GM to win four World Series titles since the Dodgers' Buzzie Bavasi in the 1950s and '60s.
"I grew up in this franchise, and this is what I know," Cashman said. "I think it's an easier situation for me, because I haven't been anywhere else. If I had come from somewhere else, it would have been a much more difficult, challenging environment."
The 44-year-old Cashman received votes of confidence from the ownership group during the 2011 season, in which the Yankees won 97 games and took the American League East before falling to the Tigers in a five-game Division Series.
That outcome of a dark winter without a championship, as it has been under decades of Steinbrenner ownership, remains unacceptable. It is an issue that Cashman will be challenged to fix for 2012, and one that he is expected to begin working on immediately.
"I think I've got to improve our talent, as always," Cashman said. "Now that's part of the goal. I don't think we played to the best of our abilities -- part of that is our control, and part of that is obviously controlled by what the Tigers put forth.
"We have a 97-win team, one of the best teams in baseball. But October's a lot different. It's not an excuse, but October is a lot different than April to September."
With his own future secure, Cashman begins the offseason having already taken care of his most pressing issue. Ace CC Sabathia agreed to a contract extension on Monday that could keep him in pinstripes through 2017, which the Yankees viewed as their top priority.
The Yankees may still be players in a relatively thin free-agent pitching market, as Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson is widely regarded as a top target and the names of Mark Buehrle, Roy Oswalt and Japan's Yu Darvish have been making the rounds. But they enjoy a certain level of confidence in having made sure Sabathia will be in place for Opening Day.
"We all know what CC brings to the table, obviously," Cashman said. "He pitches to the front of the rotation, he's created a great atmosphere in that clubhouse, he's one of our team leaders and he's a real influential person in the community. He kind of represents all aspects of what you'd want our players to be."
Cashman said that the Yankees' focus will continue to be "pitching, pitching, pitching," eyeing upgrades to a rotation that tentatively slots Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett behind Sabathia. Veterans Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon are free agents, and Cashman said it was too early to tell if either would return for '12.
"The main focus will be on the rotation," Cashman said.
Asked specifically about free-agent sluggers like Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, Cashman said that he does not see adding offense as a need, though he did not completely slam the door on the topic.
"On the offensive side, I don't think that's really a priority," Cashman said. "I don't think it should be a priority. It doesn't mean that we won't again explore or listen to anything that gets presented, whether it's an agent or a general manager. But from the outset, is that anything we're realistically looking at, anticipating or needing? No."
Cashman added that he feels an ability to approach the free-agent market in a more methodical and relaxed fashion because Sabathia agreed to his extension so early.
"He's certainly the most important piece as we entered this process," Cashman said. "I think we have a great team. I think we obviously need to continue to explore opportunities to find ways of getting better, but we have a lot of depth. We have a lot of youth coming. We have a lot of support. We have some flexibility."
The Yankees have made the playoffs in all but one of Cashman's seasons as GM (2008). His clubs have claimed 11 division titles and six AL championships, but Cashman said he believes it is healthy not to feel in complete control of the situation.
"I have not just a boss -- I have bosses," Cashman said. "I have a big seat at the table, but I don't sit at the head of the table. I know my place."
Cashman joined the Yankees in 1986 as a 19-year-old intern in the Minor League and scouting department.
"I know how this place works -- people inside the stadium and outside the stadium -- and I think that type of knowledge is powerful and helpful," Cashman said. "I'm very comfortable. I appreciate that they still want me to be a part of the process, and I'm comfortable being a part of the process."