Saving the Farm

By Zack Robinson

To the untrained eye, this offseason was a bust for the New York Yankees. The Evil Empire transformed to the Pinstripe Penny-pinchers, saving money by avoiding a big deal in David Robertson, and going after the more cost effective Andrew Miller; then signing incumbent Chase Headley rather than making a big splash in the third base market like their counterparts on Yawkee Way, and North of the border (Red Sox). Yes, to the average fan it looked as if the Yanks were going all in on the post core-4 rebuild, but I’m here to tell you why you’re wrong.
The Yankees quietly had the single most successful offseasons in the American League East the last two years, and have put themselves in a position to win for years to come. The simple fact is, they weren’t drawn by the Hollywood names, and attacked the market where they needed pieces to improve. They stayed in their lane. In the last year, Brian Cashman successfully turned Peter O’Brien – the man without a position – and David Phelps, in to a half season of Martin Prado/Brandon McCarthy, veteran hitter Garrett Jones, and a very good pitching prospect in Nate Eovaldi. He turned Yangervis Solarte into a long term deal with stellar defensive 3b Chase Headley, who has the 5th best WAR over the last 5 years amongst active 3b. And last but not least, Cash did it without trading the farm.

When Cano broke our hearts last year, it was easy to look at the Yankees and say, “all is lost.” But while we were shortsighted, the front office thought more long-term, assigning former College World Series MVP Rob Refsnyder to second base (removing him from his natural position in the OF), and signing Boston’s WAR leader Jacoby Ellsbury to a long-term deal to patrol center field. Now, Cano is the singles king of Seattle for 25+ million a year, and cost controlled top 10 2b prospect Refsnyder – who hit .330 in Spring Training – is waiting in the wings to become the next homegrown hero for the Yankees.

The very same year, the Yankees went after Carlos Beltran on a short-term deal to play right field, rather than making a trade for the costly Justin Upton from the reeling Atlanta Braves. In doing so, Cashman effectively saved the MLB’s #3 RHP prospect Luis Severino from the Atlanta heat, and provided a stopgap in right field until former College Home Run Derby champion (and the #69 prospect in the MLB) Aaron Judge is ready for the show.

In the years of the boss, things were great. Big money was spent for big names, and more often than not, it worked out. But since his passing, his sons Hank and Hal have been more interested in playing moneyball in the free agent market, and using trades as the means of acquiring big time players (i.e. Solarte for Headley). The internal clash of the front office seems to be over – and Cashman has been given the reigns, albeit on a budget.


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