So in 2005, Cashman demanded all of the powers GM’s usually have, that his peers had, or he would take his talents elsewhere, as he made clear to Tyler Kepner and the NY Times in 2005:
"Cashman was referring to Steinbrenner’s lieutenants in Tampa, whose suggestions often led to roster moves that undermined Cashman’s authority. Privately, Cashman longed for the chance to have as much autonomy as his peers, which is why he nearly left the only organization he has known. “It took as long as it did for a reason,” said Cashman, whose current contract would have expired Monday. “My preference was to stay, but I was prepared to go if I had to."
Wisely, the Steinbrenners agreed. I remember the day he famously said he re-signed in order to change the story of Brian Cashman, GM.
But Just One Title
A lot of lines have been written in that book since that fateful day in 2005. Most of them have been about free agent deals made to support proven, but aging, players. The 2009 Championship makes it a hard strategy to argue with. But even during these years, with increased power, not all the sentences were written by Brian.
Of those, there are two that perhaps most bother Brian. One is Hal Steinbrenner’s decision to re-sign Alex Rodriguez. Cash was solidly against giving a player in his mid-30’s a ten-year deal, partially because it kept the emphasis on supporting an aging team instead of building a new, younger dynasty with payroll flexibility:
"Cashman didn’t want A-Rod back. When Rodriguez famously opted out of his 10-year contract during the 2007 playoffs, Cashman argued hard against the new 10-year, $275 million deal: A-Rod’s insecurities had become a headache, and would only be more of a burden without Texas covering $67 million of his contract. In what became the biggest, most crippling transaction of the post-Boss era—deteriorating health led Steinbrenner to cede control to his sons in ’10—Rodriguez’s star power proved too much for the Yankees and their YES Network to resist. “The guy that made that decision,” says managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, “is me.”"
Coming in Second with Cano
And the other is Hal’s refusal to trade Robinson Cano in the middle of the 2013 season. Brian had correctly predicted that Cano would not re-sign with the club and that this was the perfect time to start a rebuild with youth:
"“We should trade Cano before he’s a free agent, because he will not re-sign with us,” Cashman said, repeating the recommendation he made at the time. “They’re looking at money we won’t be willing to commit. They’re looking for a 10-year deal.” How much could the Yankees have benefited by trading Cano instead of losing him as a free agent? Cashman never found out, because he was told not to put Cano on the market. The 2013 Yankees failed in their push for the playoffs, finishing 85-77, six games out of a wild-card spot."
As much as the fans appreciate a win-it-all-now mentality, last year proved they have an equal affinity for smart baseball decisions. What Cash did last year at the trade deadline, which led to the current rebuild, he wanted to start four years ago.