- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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STAMFORD, CONN. -- It's been a busy four days for New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman. After agreeing to re-sign legends Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter to new contracts, Cashman rappelled 22 stories down the Landmark Building in Stamford, Conn., on Sunday night -- dressed as an elf.
Now, it's on to baseball's winter meetings.
"Yeah, we got a lot more work to be honest, that's why I gotta get on a plane tonight," Cashman said Sunday, wearing a Yankees jacket, green and red tights, a black and orange ski hat and Christmas-colored striped socks. "I could've flown tomorrow morning but I'm going to get down to Orlando tonight because I gotta hit the ground running first thing tomorrow."
After his daredevil stunt in Stamford as part of the city's Heights & Lights Show, Cashman heads to Orlando, Fla., hoping to improve the Yankees pitching staff, possibly with the addition of the most sought-after free agent, lefty Cliff Lee.
"My priority list is pitching is everything," Cashman said. "I've been focusing on the pitching. I've been focusing on the legacy guys, but I really need to take care of our pitching."
With Jeter and Rivera's contracts squared away, the general manager can focus squarely on trying to acquire Lee and building the rest of his 2011 pitching staff. Cashman said he does not necessarily need to add Lee, like he needed to two years ago when he signed CC Sabathia to be the team's No. 1 starter, but he would love to add another ace.
Cashman talked about his visit to Lee's home in Arkansas at the beginning of free agency, but is now just playing the waiting game.
"That's really up to Cliff Lee, his wife, his family and his agent," Cashman said about a deal happening at the winter meetings. "We're ready to be there, rock and roll, whenever they say we're ready to talk. I'm ready to talk. I'll talk right now. I would've talked on the building if I had time."
Along with adding Lee, the Yanks are waiting to discover if lefty Andy Pettitte will return. Cashman said he talked to Pettitte before he left for the offseason and spoke to his agent, Randy Hendricks, about two weeks ago, but no decision has been made.
Cashman said he will go about putting a team together and if Pettitte wants to return, the team will be open to discussing a new contract. He did indicate, though, that the Yankees won't give the veteran a blank check to return.
"Every dollar spent is a dollar that comes off," Cashman said. "I don't have unlimited resources. I have more than everybody else, but not [a] bottomless pit."
At any rate, Cashman knows he'll face stiff competition in Orlando. During Sunday's event, Cashman received a text about free-agent outfielder Jayson Werth signing a seven-year deal, but didn't immediately know what team had inked the outfielder. When he found out from reporters it was Washington, he seemed glad Werth didn't find his way into the American League East.
Said Cashman: "At least it's not Boston."
Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.