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Nick Cafardo | sunday baseball notes

After an early exit, Yankees have work to do in the offseason

Manny Machado is flexing his muscles for the Dodgers now, but could be in play for the Yankees as a free agent in the offseason.
Manny Machado is flexing his muscles for the Dodgers now, but could be in play for the Yankees as a free agent in the offseason. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The Yankees were eliminated in the Division Series, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be a thorn in the Red Sox’ side for many years to come. The Yankees, however, have some work to do in the offseason. Like Boston last offseason, they will have money to spend because they reset their luxury tax by falling under the $197 million payroll threshold this season.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has some shopping to do, but how much shopping can he do?

Cashman said the decision on the amount of payroll will be made by owner Hal Steinbrenner. “He’ll set the dance tune, and we’ll dance to it,” said Cashman.

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First and foremost, the Yankees need a starting pitcher or two. The “two” part will depend on how comfortable Cashman and his staff feel about rookie Justus Sheffield taking a role as a fifth starter. We know that Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka will be around. J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia are free agents.

Cashman indicated at his news conference on Friday at Yankee Stadium that he will seek to deal Sonny Gray, likely to a smaller-market team where he can handle the stage better.

“It hasn’t worked out thus far but I think he’s extremely talented,” said Cashman. “I think we’ll enter the winter opened-minded about moving him. If we can’t get what we feel is fair value he’ll be with us and we’ll keep trying. There have been a lot of cases where pitchers just don’t react in certain markets before, and after they’re fine. ”

So that leaves some work to be done.

Happ, 36, could re-sign with the Yankees, who could also delve into free agency and sign someone such as Arizona free agent lefthander Patrick Corbin, who is only 29. It would appear the Yankees are moving on from Sabathia, who says he wants to play for at least another season and not necessarily in New York. The Yankees could also reacquaint themselves with Nathan Eovaldi, who will be a free agent. Obviously, the Red Sox would like to re-sign him, but it appears Eovaldi has won himself a nice four-year deal at about $15 million per year, at least.

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Astros starting pitcher Charlie Morton could be a fit for the Yankees’ rotation in 2019.
Astros starting pitcher Charlie Morton could be a fit for the Yankees’ rotation in 2019.(Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Connecticut native Charlie Morton will also be a free agent. At age 35, the Astros righthander could be a short-term solution to the middle of the Yankee rotation. Morton would also fit the Red Sox rotation after they shed free agent Drew Pomeranz’s almost $10 million salary.

There’s also the trade market, and one attractive lefthander would be Madison Bumgarner, who was on the block a bit at the trading deadline. The Yankees had some interest at the time. Of course, with the Giants not yet hiring a new general manager, it’s hard to tell where there’ll go with this.

Suffice it to say the major work has to be done to the starting rotation, but the Yankees also need to look at the bullpen, where Zach Britton and David Robertson are free agents. Letting them walk would break up that gang of closers who are working as middle relievers and setup men. The Yankees could easily afford to sign one or both if they feel they can still help augment Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman.

There are also other attractive bullpen choices such as Kelvin Herrera, Andrew Miller (though he was hurt a lot this year), and Greg Holland (who pitched lousy for the Cardinals and very well for the Nationals).

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The potential elephant in the room is Manny Machado. It’s no secret that Machado would love to play for the Yankees. Now that it’s been disclosed that Didi Gregorius needs Tommy John surgery as a result of injuring his elbow in Game 1 or 2 of the ALDS against Boston, it paves the way for Machado to come to New York as the shortstop.

Otherwise, Gleyber Torres would shift from second to shortstop. If Machado signed with the Yankees to play third, that would necessitate Miguel Andujar moving to first base. All speculative, of course.

As Andujar and Torres continue to grow as major league players following their rookie seasons, this could potentially be a devastating infield for the Yankees. Machado would give the Yankees a better overall pure hitter to augment the sluggers already in their lineup.

“We haven’t even had our organization meetings yet, so everything is premature,” Cashman said. “We really have to sit down as a group and go over our options.”

When you think about it, despite some of their prominent free agents, the Yankees have their major players under control for a longer period than do the Red Sox. Aaron Judge can’t be a free agent until 2023, Andujar and Torres not until 2024. Giancarlo Stanton is signed through 2027. Gary Sanchez is theirs until 2023. Gregorius is signed until 2020. Aaron Hicks can also be a free agent in 2020. Severino can’t be a free agent until 2023, and Tanaka can be a free agent in 2021. Betances could leave in 2020 and Chapman in 2022.

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The Yankees were disappointed they didn’t even get as far as last season, when they took the Astros to Game 7 of the ALCS before losing. Manager Joe Girardi was fired after that, even though he took a very young team a lot further than most people around the game thought he would. They brought in Aaron Boone, who wound up winning 14 more regular-season games but bowed out in four games in the ALDS. So that essentially was a step backward, making it hard to justify the Girardi firing.

The Yankees also will likely part with veteran Brett Gardner, 35, whose $12.5 million option likely won’t be picked up, especially with Jacoby Ellsbury likely to come back next season from hip surgery. They may want to re-sign Andrew McCutchen for a short-term deal. McCutchen may want something more significant, though it’s uncertain he would get it with his overall game not what it used to be.

There’s certainly angst among Yankees fans over the quick departure from the postseason. Their fan base thought that they would build off last season and with a superstar lineup advance to a World Series berth. But they fell far short of that.

“Of course we’re disappointed,” Cashman said. “I thought we had a chance against the Red Sox, but they’re a great team. We knew that all season facing them. They did a great job against us.”

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Apropos of nothing

1. Interviews are going fast and furious around the league for the vacant GM jobs in San Francisco, New York (Mets), and Baltimore. Several names have emerged with the Mets, with Cardinals executive Gary LaRocque getting the most play. But the Mets have interviewed younger candidates such as Tampa Bay’s Chaim Bloom and Cleveland’s Mike Chernoff, while veterans such as Doug Melvin have also had their day — reflective perhaps of a tug of war between Fred Wilpon and his son Jeff over the type of GM to lead the team. Do the Mets go the new-age route, or opt for old-school?

2. You just wonder what’s going on in Miami. Gary Denbo, the man empowered by Derek Jeter, has wielded the ax liberally, letting go of probably the best infield instructor in recent memory in Perry Hill, while also firing one of the brightest young scouting directors in Jim Cuthbert. People in baseball are just mystified by Denbo’s actions. Morale in that organization, I’m told, is at an all-time low. Jeter has gotten off to a poor start as the man running the show in Miami with a lot of strange decisions, including the firings of a lot of good people and the empowering of Denbo. We understand, from a financial perspective, the trading of superstars they couldn’t afford, but the rest of it has made no sense. As one staffer said, “It’s been ruthless. Just ruthless.”

3. Dan Duquette had yet to receive an inquiry regarding any of the available GM jobs, but there’s a possibility the Mets and Giants could circle back to him.

4. A two-man team will emerge for the Giants with the hiring of a president of baseball operations and GM. Brian Sabean would still remain in an advisory capacity in that setup. With Ben Cherington out of the picture by his own doing, the Giants are looking into the analytics-oriented GMs, and may split the difference with a traditional veteran president to oversee it all. Dodgers executive Josh Byrnes, a former Red Sox assistant GM, has also emerged as a viable candidate.

5. Umpire Angel Hernandez was ridiculed quite a bit for his work in the ALDS, especially by the Yankees’ CC Sabathia, who said Hernandez should not be working a postseason game. One defender of Hernandez was Rick Porcello, who found no fault with his ball-and-strike calls. “Throw the ball over the plate, CC,” Porcello said afterward. “I thought Angel Hernandez called a good game. You’ve got to put the ball over the white part of the plate and then you get the strikes called.”

6. It’s a shame what happened in Detroit with longtime broadcast partners Mario Impemba and Rod Allen, who fought after a broadcast of a Sept. 4 game as part of a dispute that stemmed from who got the better chair in the booth, among other trivial things. A fabulously written tick-tock by Detroit News baseball writer Lynn Henning detailed the often-felt tension between the two, even though they’d been together for 16 seasons on Fox Sports Detroit.

7. In their first 30 years after moving from Brooklyn to Los Angeles (1958-88), the Dodgers won five championships. They haven’t won one in the 30 years since.

Updates on nine

Rick Porcello defended umpire Angel Hernandez’s performance behind the plate in Game 4 of the ALDS.
Rick Porcello defended umpire Angel Hernandez’s performance behind the plate in Game 4 of the ALDS.(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

1. Eddie Romero, assistant GM, Red Sox — As the Red Sox’ success story grows, Romero’s stock is rising in major league baseball. Romero is not only working under the well-respected Dave Dombrowski, he also embraces the new-wave information and is an expert in the international market, which is very important for a GM in this era. Romero, the son of former Red Sox utilityman Ed Romero, has been around baseball his entire life.

2. Ned Colletti, former GM, Dodgers — He could be in line for a front office post in Baltimore or San Francisco. Although he fits the profile of a traditional front-office man, Colletti embraced analytics during his Dodgers tenure. He knows how to run an organization and has always created a nice balance of scouting and analytics.

3. Brad Ziegler, former pitcher — Ziegler retired this past week, ending an 11-year career in which he led all relievers in innings since his rookie season in 2008. Ziegler’s submarine style confounded many a righthanded batter. He was effective in his half-season in Boston (1.52 ERA). From 2008-16, Ziegler had a 2.44 ERA. He struggled at the start of this season for the Marlins, but turned it around. Ziegler could pursue TV or front-office jobs.

4. Gary DiSarcina, bench coach, Mets — The Plymouth resident is on the list of 40 compiled by Rangers GM Jon Daniels for their manager’s job. DiSarcina served as John Farrell’s bench coach and has experience under Mike Scioscia as a bench coach with the Angels, as well. Red Sox players enjoyed working with DiSarcina, who is also a terrific infield instructor. The Rangers were also interviewing former Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

5. Omar Minaya, special assistant to president, Mets — Minaya will have a lot to say about who becomes the next GM. Minaya, in fact, will have his role grow rather than diminish, so whoever comes in as the GM will have to coexist with him. The Mets also have holdovers J.P. Ricciardi, who has two years remaining on his contract, and John Ricco, who has been a loyal administrator in charge of contracts. Whoever agrees to take the job also has to be able to deal with Jeff Wilpon, who is very much involved in baseball matters as the son of the owner.

6. Mickey Callaway, manager, Mets — He is in an interesting position because the new Mets GM will supposedly have the power to keep or fire the manager. Callaway did not have a successful first year with the Mets, as his team was beset with injuries. He would have been high on the Twins’ list if he were available. Chief baseball officer Derek Falvey worked in the Indians’ front office at the same time Callaway was there in a coaching capacity. Still, there could very well be an Indians slant to the Twins’ hire. Sandy Alomar Jr. and Brad Mills are two Indians coaches who could be in the running in Minnesota. Connecting even more dots, Twins GM Thad Levine was involved in the hiring of Jeff Banister as manager of the Rangers. Banister was fired in September.

7. Mike Scioscia, former manager, Angels — His friends have said that he still wants to manage after 19 years with the Angels, and that he would entertain opportunities if they come his way. So far, Texas, Baltimore, and Toronto, with managerial openings, have not indicated any interest, but it’s still relatively early in the process.

8. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF, Yankees — According to GM Brian Cashman, Ellsbury should be ready to go by late March or April from hip surgery, which kept him out all season. Ellsbury has now had two years in his career where he’s missed all or most of the season — 2010, when he cracked six ribs and was limited to 18 games, and this season with numerous injuries, the most serious of which was the hip. Ellsbury is 35 years old and is still owed about another $47.2 million, which includes a $5 million buyout option in 2021.

9. Dan Evans, former GM, Dodgers — He rebuilt the fading Dodgers when he took over as GM in 2001, until his departure after 2004. Evans led the Dodgers to their first playoff appearance in eight years in 2004. He has since worked as an agent and a scout and/or executive for the White Sox, Cubs, Mariners, and lastly the Blue Jays. He had a .546 winning percentage as the Dodgers’ GM. Evans has shown interest in both the Baltimore and San Francisco GM jobs.

Extra innings

From the Bill Chuck files — “The cycle isn’t that interesting and not so rare. From Aug. 9 to the end of the LDS, five players hit for the cycle: Mookie Betts, Christian Yelich (twice), Charlie Blackmon, and Brock Holt, while J.T. Realmuto and Jose Peraza were the only two players this season to have five singles in a game, and they both did it in the same week in July.” . . . Also, “Matt Carpenter played 156 games without hitting into a double play this season; he has a streak of 173 games without hitting into a double play.” . . . Happy birthday, William Cuevas (28), Boof Bonser (37), Frank Duffy (72), and Tommy Harper (78).

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo. Material from interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.