What’s next for the Yankees?

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It’s probably a little early for this sort of talk, but the futures of impending free agents Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera and manager Joe Girardi are sure to be a popular topic of conversation during the winter. The thing is, aside from the chance that Pettitte retires, they are all pretty much locks to return in pinstripes next season.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told Chad Jennings of the Journal News that signing Girardi to a new contract is his first priority this winter.

“I would think that would be the first order of business,” Cashman said. “But I haven’t even talked to our owners yet.”

As for Pettitte, the Yankees re-signed him to a one-year deal last December. The veteran left-hander told Sam Borden of the Journal News that whether he decides to retire or not, he would like a quick resolution this offseason, as well.

“I don’t want to drag it out,” Pettitte said.

Rivera, who turns 41 next month, was just as brilliant as ever this season. His three-year, $45 million contract is up, but it would be tough to envision a scenario where he signs elsewhere.

“We’ll see,” Rivera said. “That I will tell you guys later on, when it happens.”

And, of course, Jeter. Nobody actually expects the shortstop to leave via free agency, but he wasn’t ready to talk about his future after last night’s loss.

“I haven’t even really thought about it,” Jeter said. “We just lost. Coming in tonight I wasn’t planning on this being the end of the season.”

Many are going to focus on how much money Jeter will make on his next contract. It’s irrelevant, really. Yankees’ money isn’t normal money. This is an organization that can pay mistakes like Kei Igawa to be in the witness relocation program. Ignore it.

No, the tricky part will be how the Yankees decide to handle their franchise player as he moves into his late-30s. He already took a huge step back this season at age 36, both offensively and defensively. Is it possible that we could see another resurgence like 2009? Maybe. But such occurrences are much less likely as a player ages. Eventually, someone is going to have to make the delicate decision to set aside legacy for the sake of wins and losses. He’ll get his contract this winter — and deservedly so, I might add — but let’s hope this situation doesn’t get ugly a couple years from now.