Via Dan Barbarisi: Team officials confirmed Brian Cashman came to the Winter Meetings this week without the authorization to make offers to free agents. The GM had to go to ownership and plead his case for the Kevin Youkilis offer and I assume the Nate Schierholtz offer as well.
One official downplayed the seriousness of the situation, saying most GMs have to approach ownership before handing out offers. Another confirmed that this is, however, a change of pace for the Yankees. Cashman had more authority in the past, so this jibes with the earlier report of his apparent frustration. Why did ownership scale back the GMs authority? Your guess is as good as mine.