What Cashman can do to help Yankees’ chances of landing Darvish

If there is any way for the Yankees to sign Yu Darvish and still stay under the luxury-tax threshold, GM Brian Cashman made it obvious just how much he’d love to do it, heaping praise on the free-agent righthander on Thursday.

Problem is, of course, there doesn’t seem to be any way the math works, unless the Yankees’ GM can pull off a miracle and trade Jacoby Ellsbury — and at least half of his remaining salary.

Nevertheless, speaking on WFAN’s afternoon drive show on Thursday, Cashman offered an intriguing answer to a question about potentially signing Darvish, leaving the door open to the possibility.

“Do we recognize Yu Darvish as a unique talent and a premier starting pitcher in the marketplace?” Cashman said. “Yes we do. Would we be one of the last teams standing (in any bidding for Darvish)? I can’t answer that.

“I do think there are things we can do to create (payroll) flexibility. And that’s why you stay engaged with high-end guys in the marKetplace.”

Hmmm. Trading Ellsbury, which is complicated not only by the three years and $63 million he has remaining on his contract, but also by the outfielder’s no-trade clause, is the most obvious way for the Yankees to create such flexibility, especially since he appears to be a spare part now in the outfield.

Until Yu Darvish signs elsewhere, the idea of him pitching in the Bronx can't be ruled out entirely.

Until Yu Darvish signs elsewhere, the idea of him pitching in the Bronx can’t be ruled out entirely.

(Mark J. Terrill/AP)

But if Cashman were determined to find other ways, he could trade Brett Gardner, which would save him $11.5 million on the payroll this season, or perhaps Dellin Betances, who is likely to make $5 million or so in arbitration.

Would he do that to add Darvish? And would trading Betances, for example, add enough flexibility?

Nobody knows down to the penny how much the Yankees can still spend and stay under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold, especially because they want to leave room to add players at the July trade deadline.

But even in this slow-moving free-agent market it seems unlikely that Darvish will be signed for less than $20 million a year, and Cashman made it clear that would put the Yankees over the tax threshold, which he said remains a priority.

“Unless ownership changes their mind,” he said.

Yu Darvish.

Yu Darvish.

(Mark J. Terrill/AP)

When asked if there was a player who would cause such a change of mind, Cashman said, “I don’t think so.”

Still, Cashman indicated he’ll stay in contact with the Japanese star righthander.

And adding to the buzz Cashman created, Michael Kay said on his ESPN radio show that the Yankees made Darvish an offer of seven years and $160 million at some point during this off-season, then pulled it off the table when the pitcher didn’t immediately agree to take it.

Unless that offer was made before the Yankees traded for Giancarlo Stanton and his huge salary, it doesn’t jive with Cashman’s comments about the luxury-tax threshold.

But until Darvish signs elsewhere, apparently the idea of him pitching in the Bronx can’t be ruled out entirely.

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yu darvish
new york yankees
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