ORLANDO, Fla. -- A Yankees contingent, led by managing partner Hal Steinbrenner, met with the agents for Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Brian McCann and presumably other free agents at the baseball GM Meetings here as the Yankees endeavor to remake only their second non-playoff team in 19 years.
The Yankees have interest in arguably the six biggest free agents on the market, including four who seek or will cost in excess of $100 million -- their own Robinson Cano plus Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury and Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.
The intrerest in Drew is interesting in that Derek Jeter, the Yankes' iconic shortstop, has already signed back for $12 million. Steinbrenner, who did that deal, has already talked to Jeter to warn him that they might seek a starting shortstop due to Jeter's status as a player returning from a severe ankle injury and missed most of last year. Jeter hasn't spoken publicly since signing, but he's said to understand the Yankees' shortstop interest after speaking with Steinbrenner.
The Yankees also are looking at another shortstop, Brendan Ryan, but that won't preclude a Drew signing.
Ellsbury, Choo and Drew are represented by Scott Boras, Beltran by Dan Lozano and McCann by B.B. Abbott.
The Yankees are said to have sincere interest in all these players.
Ellsbury and Choo are said to be seeking well in excess of $100 million. Beltran is looking for a three-year deal, which makes his return to St. Louis improbable. McCann is believed a threat to get close to $100 million.
The Yankees are aiming to get their payroll below $189 million to halt the luxury tax for a year, and reset it at the lowered 17 percent rate. They have tens of millions of dollars coming off the books with all their free agents and retired players, more if Alex Rodriguez is suspended.