The latest steroid-tainted twist in the Alex Rodriguez saga has only added to the perception that the Yankees — old, injury-prone and now strapped by a self-imposed salary cap — are headed down a dark alley toward a very uncertain future.

When presented with that scenario on Wednesday, general manager Brian Cashman said he doesn't see it happening.

"We'll find a way, we always do," he said. "We'll be active in free-agent signings, trades, and we have a strong farm system, one of the best in baseball. It will be business as usual — it's always been that way."

When asked if Hal Steinbrenner's edict to get the payroll under $189 million for 2014 might stand in the way of business as usual, Cashman simply said, "No."

The GM didn't elaborate but did seem to leave open the possibility that the $189 million ceiling, which would allow the Yankees to avoid severe luxury-tax penalties, isn't necessarily etched in stone.

"Is it absolute?" he asked. "It's the goal."

It's a goal that many baseball people say they will have to see to believe, especially now that Rodriguez's alleged involvement in the steroid operation uncovered this week makes his future as a Yankee murkier than ever.

"I could see them finding a way to make him go away," one rival executive said on Wednesday, "but I don't think they can make that contract go away."

That depends. According to an MLB official, even if the Yankees recoup insurance money, should A-Rod never return from his recent hip surgery, the contract would still count on the payroll.

Should they find a way to void the contract, however, they would be free of the A-Rod payroll burden. But many in baseball feel that unless the Yankees have specific language addressing performance-enhancing drug use in the contract, which was signed before his 2009 steroid admission, the club won't be able to void it.

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