The New York Yankees' offseason plans center around the status of third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is appealing a 211-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy.
Rodriguez's appeal hearing resumes Nov. 18 and could last at least five days. Assuming it ends at that point, arbitrator Fredric Horowitz is expected to take another 25 days to make a decision.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the drawn-out process complicates matters for the team as it looks to rebound for an injury-plagued season that resulted in 85 wins.
"It's important that we know," Girardi said. "Because if we're not going to have him, we need to fill that void. It does cause us to think a lot about, 'Do we need a third baseman or do we not need a third baseman?'
"Hopefully we'll know sooner rather than later."
Girardi spoke Thursday at the Bronx as the team and the USO hosted about 150 volunteers to assemble 5,000 Big Apple Packs for active servicemen and servicewomen.
Also Thursday, lawyers for Rodriguez and MLB met in a Manhattan courtroom for the first conference of Rodriguez's lawsuit against commissioner Bud Selig and the league for misconduct.
The Yankees are trying to get their payroll down to $189 million to avoid paying a luxury tax, and they have at least $85 million coming off the payroll. The Yankees could also save about $25 million in salary and a $6 million bonus if Rodriguez's suspension is upheld.
However, they could spend $300 million in free agency this winter. They are looking to re-sign free agent second baseman Robinson Cano, bid for Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka and sign free-agent catcher Brian McCann, according to ESPN.
They offered outfielder Curtis Granderson a $14.1 million qualifying offer. He has until Monday at 5 p.m. ET to accept or decline it. If he declines it and becomes a free agent, the Yankees could be in the running for free agent outfielders Carlos Beltran and Shin-Soo Choo.
Girardi said the key to the team's success for 2014 is to get back Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Rodriguez and Granderson. All four missed considerable time this year due to injuries.
"I think we need to get a little healthier," Girardi said. "Tex was a big loss. Derek was a big loss."
Jeter, 39, was limited to 17 games this year recovering primarily from a severe ankle injury. He is working out at the team's facility in Tampa, Fla.
Pitching-wise, CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova are the only ones set for next year's rotation. Andy Pettitte retired and Phil Hughes is expected to leave via free agency. The team made Hiroki Kuroda a qualifying offer. Michael Pineda, out with shoulder injuries the last two years, is expected to compete for a spot in the rotation.
The Yankees also need a closer with Mariano Rivera retired.
"I know we haven't anointed anyone as a closer, and we've got to see what happens," Girardi said. "David Robertson has had a number of very good years here, but we've got to see what we can put together as a team as a whole before we do anything."