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Yankees much more likely to trade than sign expensive free agents

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman talks on the

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman talks on the phone on the field during batting practice against the Detroit Tigers during Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on Oct. 17, 2012. Photo Credit: Getty Images

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Daniel Murphy's historic October probably will net him quite a payday on the free-agent market, but Brian Cashman all but said Monday that won't occur in the Bronx.

After initially declining to comment specifically on the club's potential interest in the Mets second baseman, Cashman referenced two players already on his roster, Rob Refsnyder and Dustin Ackley.

"We have two offensive-profile players already at that position," the Yankees' general manager said Monday afternoon after arriving at the Boca Raton Resort and Club for the first day of the GM meetings. "If we did any changing there, it would be seeking more balance on both sides of the ball."

The Yankees will look to upgrade at second, but even though Murphy -- who homered seven times in the postseason, including in six straight games, -- is not a strong defender, his price likely is prohibitive.

Throughout October and into the official start of the offseason, the indications have been consistent that the Yankees won't be spending big, even though the pool of quality free agents is deep and diverse.

Significant money will not be coming off the books, unlike two years ago, when the Yankees opened the coffers for Masahiro Tanaka ($155 million), Jacoby Ellsbury ($153 million), Brian McCann ($85 million) and Carlos Beltran ($45 million).

Last offseason offers a more realistic template for how the Yankees, whose 2016 payroll obligations already surpass $180 million, will attack the winter.

Their primary free-agent hauls last offseason were Stephen Drew and Chris Capuano, each of whom signed a one-year deal for $5 million, and Chris Young (one year, $2.5 million). The major acquisitions for 2015 came via trades, headlined by Didi Gregorius, Nathan Eovaldi and Justin Wilson.

"I never feel constrained by the budget. We've had ownership that's been massively supportive of this franchise forever," Cashman said. But he alluded to the hefty obligations already on the books.

"If there are any constraints, they would be based on prior- year commitments that we're pregnant with and that we'll ride through," Cashman said. "When you spend a certain amount of money at a certain level, like we have, those constraints come on the back end of that. It has nothing to do with ownership. They've stepped up always."

With managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, that comes with limitations, which is nothing new for those who have been paying attention in recent years. Any significant upgrades to the roster likely will come from the trade market, in which there already has been plenty of conversation.

"I think we're going to do a lot of discussions," Cashman said. "We might not do anything. They may lead to complete stagnation or radical changes at the same time. I'm open-minded to doing whatever. I feel that's the way we've operated for a long time. Finding matches are always difficult, but you have to go through the process."

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