The Cashman Chronicles
There is a specific person behind the scenes that, in my mind, does not get enough credit and recognition. Although, I feel most front office personnel and general managers hide within the depths of their respective stadiums (unless you are Theo Epstein). Brian Cashman is one of those general managers that quietly pulls the logistical strings in the background as he looks to put a winning product on the field. Sometimes he pulls the correct strings and sometimes he doesn’t. The past fiscal year has proven to be a particular combination of good moves and bad moves depending on your opinion. But I think it is safe to say that moves made in recent weeks have solidified Cashman once again as a top five general manager in Major League Baseball.
Cashman began his career with the Yankees in 1986 as an intern and eventually worked his way up the ranks to what he is today. And in that time there are questionable decisions mostly dictated by ownership, but also decisions that answer questions to long term solutions.
In December 2014, Cashman answered the call when looking to fill important roster spots - most notably Didi Gregorius. Derek Jeter filled the shortstop position in the infield for 20 years and is considered to be one of the most beloved Yankees of all time as well as the face of a generation for Major League Baseball. A resume such as Jeter’s is not so easily replaceable. But Cashman utilized his intel with his closest advisors and traded Shane Greene for Didi in a three team deal with Arizona and Detroit. After a bad April in the 2015 season, Didi changed his tune and has developed into one of the best defensive shortstops in all of baseball and has improved his offensive numbers dramatically.
Cashman made another move in December 2014 by trading the highly talented utility man Martin Prado and David Phelps to the Marlins for Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones and Domingo German. Eovaldi is a flame throwing pitcher from Texas that can easily hit 100 mph on the gun and deliver a devastating slider. However, Eovaldi has struggled deeply with location in his major league career thus far. His stuff is phenomenal but can’t seem to hit his spots sometimes. And as of two weeks ago, Eovaldi’s career may be in jeopardy as he had a second Tommy John surgery.
It was also difficult to see Martin Prado go after the 2014 season. I thought he was going to be the starting second basemen for the 2015 season for sure, but the Yankees ended up scraping the bottom of the barrel for Stephen Drew. The resigning of Drew was a rough one considering that he hit .201 for the season. But everyone knew that Stephen Drew was not the long term answer for the Yankees at second base, because his defense was sub-par and his hitting was too dramatically hot and cold.
Now we arrive to the 2015 offseason. I think that the 2015 offseason was the initial phase in Cashman’s plan to “rebuild” whether the Steinbrenner’s agreed with the notion or not. Drew was not resigned, and he was replaced by Starlin Castro in a trade with the Cubs. I thought this move was fantastic. Castro is a young player that displayed solid defense at shortstop and at second base having only played for a month and a half at the four spot before being traded to New York. But what I liked most about the Castro trade was both his offensive and defensive potential in a new lineup. Castro has proven with his time in Chicago that he can hit, but the double play combo of Starlin Castro and a newly evolved Didi Gregorius could be nothing short of entertaining up the middle. These guys are both only 26, have range, have great arms, and can hit. Cashman managed to inject a youthful combination of offense and defense up the middle, but at the cost of Adam Warren, who was a stellar reliever for years with the Yankees.
The biggest offseason splash for Cashman was easily the Aroldis Chapman deal by far. Due to his recent allegations of domestic violence and Cincinnati’s willingness to dump his salary, it became hard for ball clubs to pass up the opportunity to have a guy that can consistently throw 100 mph plus at every save opportunity. Cashman traded four minor league players including pitchers Caleb Cotham, Rookie Davis, and infielders Eric Jagielo, and Tony Renda. Chapman also avoided arbitration on February 12, 2016 by agreeing to a one-year contract at 11.4 million dollars. So, essentially Cashman dumped some potential minor league players for Aroldis Chapman at a reasonably priced one-year contract. Even before Chapman was named the Yankees closer, I believed the writing was on the wall to use Chapman as a bargaining chip depending on the Yankees state at the trade deadline. It was pretty obvious considering the Yankees essentially had two closers with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller (who arguably is the best reliever in all of baseball).
The Chapman deal was nice, but almost overkill for the Yankees bullpen situation because Andrew Miller did such a great job as the Yankees closer in 2015. So it was easy to assume what Chapman would mean to the Yankees moving forward.
And as the Yankees moved forward in 2016, their standing in the AL East and wildcard standings did not move forward, and Cashman finally convinced management that selling and rebuilding was the most logical move to make if the Yankees were to ever be an eventual contender in upcoming seasons. Within a week, Aroldis Chapman was gone, and then Andrew Miller was gone. Carlos Beltran was also gone. And in return the Yankees went from having the 15th or 16th ranked farm system to probably the best farm system in all of baseball, and they also got a solid bullpen arm in Tyler Clippard at nice buy-low value.
The Chapman and Miller deals provided a plethora of young talent in return, as well as the second coming of Adam Warren to bolster a now weaker bullpen (getting Warren back essentially means the Yankees got Starlin Castro for Brendan Ryan). Players like Gleyber Torres, Bill McKinney, Rashad Crawford, Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen were all acquired for these two players. The Yankees also got Dillon Tate and two others for Carlos Beltran. I don’t think anyone wanted to see Andrew Miller go because of his electric stuff, positive attitude, and team friendly contract, but Cashman knew it was the logical thing to do because of the value that could be received in return. Cashman’s moves at the 2016 trade deadline have potential to make the Yankees a juggernaut around the 2018 season.
Some of the Yankees home grown talent have managed to earn their opportunities with the big club in recent weeks with the likes of Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin. Now is the time to let these young guys play. The dramatic exit of Alex Rodriguez opened the door to some of the younger players. I bet it stung releasing A-Rod with all that money on the table, but it was obvious that Cashman was not a fan of Rodriguez and was potentially happy to see him go. And now that A-Rod is gone, Sanchez, Judge and Austin finally have their shot in the bigs. The past few weeks have been refreshing and revitalizing to say the least. Especially with the likes of Gary Sanchez who is arguably having the best start by any rookie ever in his first month in MLB (in 23 games: 35 hits, eight doubles, 11 homers. 21 RBIs .498 AVG, and OPS of 1.328). THESE NUMBERS ARE RIDICULOUS. I have never seen anything like it before.
Yankee fans have been waiting for years to see Gary Sanchez play every day, but the organization trusted their system and decided to groom him and polish him for consistent play. And boy were they right. So check that off the list for Cashman.
They also have players like Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin, who both started hot in their first career games, but have cooled since. But Judge, who has seen substantially more playing time than Austin has shown that he can play a smooth right field as well with his arm and decent range. It is still early but Aaron Judge will probably be the right fielder for the Yankees for many years to come. Check that off the list for Cashman as well.
The Yankees have had an extremely frustrating and inconsistent season thus far. Things have been brighter of late, but some of the larger contracts cast a shadow over the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The age of large high priced contracts to dwindling veterans may be a thing of the past with Brian Cashman for the foreseeable future. The time of the rookies and farm system development is now. Cashman gets it. He knows that the league has changed and the Yankees have been smoked on big contracts in the past. Youth is the answer; and youth can provide consistency and a winning attitude with the right combination of core players playing together for many years…does this sound familiar?
Article by: Michael Mosier