Two months after the New York Yankees missed the playoffs for the second time since 1993, general manager Brian Cashman has been hammering out deals for catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury that totaled a combined $238 million while engaging with the representatives for Robinson Cano.
As he often likes to say, the Yankee GM was ready "to rock-and-roll" and get the ball rolling on re-signing Cano.
Cashman and the Yankees never had a chance as Jay-Z's Roc Nation sports group helped Cano successfully negotiate a 10-year deal worth $240 million with the Seattle Mariners. That is far beyond what the Yankees seemed willing to spend. They might have increased their reported offer of seven years, $175 million slightly, but going as far as the Mariners were willing to go seemed out of the question even for a team with a history of free spending.
"I've been doing this a long time, and some years we're more active than other years," Cashman said Thursday after the press conference to officially introduce McCann. "This year we have to be active; we have a lot of needs to fill.
"So we have an important piece that we have added here, but it cannot be the only piece. We have to add more pieces to put ourselves in a discussion for a team that people look at and say that's a team that has a chance to make some noise for six months and hopefully October, and we're not there yet."
The Yankees are not better with a lineup that includes McCann and Ellsbury but excludes Cano. The ideal scenario would have been to retain Cano on the Yankees' terms, but as we've seen over the years, all it takes is for one team to swoop in with the years and money.
It was the Angels who did it in each of the previous two winters for Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols, spending a combined $365 million. And guess where their pitching staff ranked in the American League in each of the last two seasons?
The answers are 11th and eighth, because the Angels did not have much rotation depth. That's the current description of the Yankee pitching staff.
They have CC Sabathia coming off the worst season of his career and entering the third year of a seven-year extension while approaching his 34th birthday. They also have Ivan Nova, who pitched nicely for most of the final three months of 2013 but has yet to prove to the Yankees that he can be consistent.
Beyond that there's Hiroki Kuroda, who showed some serious fatigue in the final month.
With those unknown variables involved in rebuilding a pitching staff, the money not used for Cano may enable the Yankees to go all-in for Masahiro Tanaka if an agreement on the posting system happens.
Other short-term solutions that might fill those roles are Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez. Those are three pitchers who will be younger than 32 years old and posted ERAS below 4.00.
Of course, the Yankees can attest to the dubious history of 10-year contracts. They handed one out to Alex Rodriguez after he opted out during the 2007 World Series.
Since that deal, Rodriguez has appeared in 56 percent of the Yankees' regular-season games due to multiple injuries. And that percentage could decrease as the 38-year-old possibly serves some portion of his 211-game suspension for his involvement in Biogenesis.
Still, losing Cano is a significant blow because second baseman who play every day, hit nearly 30 home runs and drive in around 100 runs on a consistent basis don't grow on trees.
"It would make a big difference," managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. "Robbie is one of the best players in baseball. No doubt about that. He is a great player. And he has been a great Yankee. We'll keep plugging away until it happens or it doesn't."
And now that it didn't happen, the Yankees can start plugging away on their needs with the money that would have gone to Cano, who couldn't seem to be convinced about a legacy in pinstripes that might have been similar to that of Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter.
"We're not waiting for Robbie," Cashman said. "And Robbie is not waiting for us. We're out trying to sign players. We've been trying to sign him, as well."
The Yankees were unable to do so, and now the focus turns to other areas, such as pitching and potential replacements at second base. Kelly Johnson could be the new second baseman once his deal becomes official, and Omar Infante has been linked to the Yankees.
They won't be Cano, but in the long run the burden of a second 10-year contract won't hurt the Yankees unless they sign someone else to that type of deal in the future.
"We would love to have Robbie as a Yankee. At the same time, there are a lot of needs I have to fill. We're aggressively trying to sign players. We have offers out there," Cashman said. "It's never an easy process. Everyone is doing the best they can. I know we have an offer we are very comfortable with. It's higher than we thought we'd be. At some point he has to decide."
And now that Cano has decided, the Yankees have to decide what their next move is.