Yankees taking huge risk by relying on farm system
The first-place Yankees need a starting pitcher and they had the trade chips to acquire David Price. Or Cole Hamels. That they didn’t cash those chips tells you how much times have changed in the Bronx.
Bad call? It all depends where this team goes from here, but certainly it’s the riskier call.
Yes, whether the direction was dictated by Hal Steinbrenner’s desire to lower the payroll or GM Brian Cashman’s firm belief in his top prospects, Yankee brass is taking a huge gamble by turning to its farm system rather than proven All-Stars for help.
Cashman knows it, too. Over the phone after Friday’s trade deadline passed, he laughed and said he was sure that when “everybody does their ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ lists, I’ll be on all the ‘losers’ lists. But that’s OK.
“I think I did the right thing. There’s risk, but I’ve got guys knocking on the door, performing at a very high level. We would have loved to have done business, but I wasn’t willing to give up certain guys. And those are the guys that everybody wanted.”
The unproven Luis Severino, not David Price or Cole Hamels, will be called on to help the Yankees down the stretch.
Primarily he was talking about pitcher Luis Severino, who is being called up from Triple-A to take Michael Pineda’s place in the rotation, and outfielder Aaron Judge.
Though Cashman wouldn’t comment on specific trade targets, he indicated that he would have had to give up one or both of those prospects to deal for Price, Hamels, reliever Craig Kimbrel or even Reds starter Mike Leake.
I was skeptical of that regarding Leake, who seemingly would have been an ideal middle-of-the-rotation starter for the Yankees, but an NL scout agreed, saying the Giants gave up a bundle in pitching prospect Keury Mella and power-hitting minor-leaguer Adam Duvall.
“Mella was their No. 1 prospect,’’ the scout said. “They gave up a lot.’’
Likewise, Cashman noted that many teams were in more of a buy mode than usual at the deadline, willing to give up their best prospects in trying to win now.
“It was like shopping at Neiman Marcus,” Cashman said.
Usually the Yankees are the most willing spenders, but the GM wasn’t apologizing for holding on tightly to his prospects, especially after years of having a mostly dormant farm system.
“We’ve told our fan base what we’re trying to do,” Cashman said. “We committed to a plan and we’re sticking to it. We’ve been very vocal about getting younger and getting our payroll down, and some of our young guys are right on the verge.”
With Severino, Judge, Greg Bird, Class A shortstop Jorge Mateo and perhaps even second baseman Rob Refsnyder, the Yankees believe they have the makings of another Core Four-type of nucleus around which to build for the future, as the big contracts of CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran come off the books over the next couple of years.
On the other hand, it’s fair to argue that even Cashman probably didn’t expect his team to be holding a commanding lead in the AL East, and with a need for better starting pitching, adding Hamels or Price would have practically assured the Yankees of holding off the newly fortified Blue Jays — and then increased their chances of going deep in October.
“I’d rather go this route, with the kids,” Cashman said. “Severino has earned the opportunity, and now we’ll see if he and some of the others can help us.”
Times have changed, all right. And it’s what at least a sizeable segment of Yankees fans has been screaming for in recent years, the homegrown element that made Derek Jeter & Co. so popular.
Of course, winning championships is what ultimately made them beloved, and that will always be the standard in the Bronx, starting with this year.
Rather unexpectedly, the Yankees are playing well enough to be considered championship contenders, but they’ll almost certainly need pitching help to get over the top. On Friday, Cashman bet heavily that the likes of Severino, Bryan Mitchell and possibly Adam Warren will provide it.
If he’s wrong, he’ll be on those “losers” lists come October as well.