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Yanks eye Beltran, Drew, Ellsbury while pressing for a Cano confab

The Yankees have secured free-agent deals with big-hitting catcher Brian McCann ($85 million) and slick-fielding backup infielder Brendan Ryan (about $2 million), but the Bronx Bombers are hardly stopping there.

They are currently engaged with free agents Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Stephen Drew and Hiroki Kuroda while eying Joe Nathan and top pitching target Masahiro Tanaka. They are also pressing their own star, Robinson Cano, for a meeting soon to figure out whether there's something to talk about.

The Yankees still suggest they believe they can meet their goal come in under the $189-million threshold after giving McCann the biggest annual salary ever for a free-agent catcher ($17 million), and are starting to wonder whether they can add three more free agents if they can't work it out with Cano. It's long been thought Cano was likely to remain in pinstripes, and the Yankees still seem like the logical favorite, but word at this point is there is no official narrowing of the $150-milliuon gap that has long existed (Cano's been seeking $310 million for 10 years with the Yankees offering about $160 million for seven).

The Yankees have been angling for a meeting next week with Cano, but there's no word on whether one is forthcoming. In the meantime, the Yankees are interested in Beltran at two years, with the Red Sox believed unlikely to go past two years. But the Royals, Mariners and Rangers are also in, and Kansas City and Seattle possibly carry the threat of going to three years (though not four), and discussions are starting to ramp up a bit with Ellsbury, Choo and especially Drew.

The Yankees were one of the teams signaling a possible willingness to give shortstop Jhonny Peralta a $52-million, four-year deal before Peralta agreed with the Cardinals, according to sources, for basically that very amount ($53 million to be exact, according to sources) and explaining to the losing teams that he simply preferred St. Louis in terms of locale over any other team. Peralta actually had requested $75 million in Yankees talks. Drew and the Yankees seem like a natural fit now, with the Yankees needing to bolster their infield situation and the free-agent list woefully thin for established starting quality players.

Both Ellsbury and Choo are in the mix for the Yankees, and talks could heat up quickly, especially if Beltran goes elsewhere. Choo appears to have an extremely strong market, but the Yankees aren't opposed to importing the ex-Red Sox Ellsbury to play center field and teaming him with Brett Gardner or potentially Derek Jeter at the top of the lineup.

The Yankees are talking to their own starter Kuroda and a few mid-rotation starters (Scott Feldman?) while keeping a close eye on the posting story. There is hope something can be resolved with Japanese officials on that front within the next couple weeks.

The closer Nathan also remains a consideration, and they are in touch with him, as well. For now, free agent starters Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez aren't strongly in the Yankees' mix, but things can change in a hurry depending on who they sign next.

 
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