Yankees: Cashman deserves praise for choosing Kluber over Paxton


We can’t declare anything for certain about where Corey Kluber will be come August, September or October following his no-hitter Wednesday night, which was undoubtedly the highlight of the Yankees’ season thus far.

We can, unfortunately, know exactly where James Paxton will be during those all-important months.

Now feels like the perfect time, while piling on the praise for Klubot’s vintage gem in Dallas, to also ladle a little bit of it over to Brian Cashman, too.

Plenty of people spent their time in April screaming in all caps on Twitter, desperately searching for Cashman’s burner to let him know that he’d overpaid for a rusty Kluber.

Strangely, those voices have been awfully silent over the past several weeks, as the 35-year-old righty has gotten a step closer to excellence in every outing before putting up his career-best performance this week.

No matter what we get from hereon out, Cashman wasn’t sold a bum bill of goods by Eric Cressey. The scouting report was correct. Honestly, it probably undersold what we could expect from Kluber’s “peak,” considering it didn’t likely account for a mid-May no-no.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman deserves praise for Corey Kluber deal.

It’s been difficult to identify who’s really at fault for many of Cashman’s much-maligned pitching moves over the past few years.

The Sonny Gray Trade has become shorthand for failure in the Bronx, but of the three pieces surrendered for Gray, Jorge Mateo has gone on to San Diego to hit .244 (and might be serving as outfield depth in the Bronx right now), Dustin Fowler has struggled to find an organization, and James Kaprielian has only now made his way to the Bay. Surely, Gray helped the 2017 Yankees more than any of these three men would’ve (he made a Game 4 ALCS start in an iconic victory!), and his disappointing 2018 likely stemmed from factors beyond Cashman’s control. Did we ever learn who was messing with his pitch mix?

Acquiring Paxton prior to the 2019 season still seems advisable, too. Justus Sheffield still feels like a fine cost for a high-upside true No. 2 starter with injury issues; he’s delivered a 4.62 ERA in Seattle thus far in 2021.

In ’19, Paxton began his season with fervor, came down with back troubles towards the end of the year, battled through them, and pitched a beastly ALCS Game 5. He had surgery to correct those problems, never felt right when he arrived for summer camp in a season unlike any other, and no needs the Tommy John surgery many of us suspected he might last August.

Cashman chose Kluber to take a chance on this winter over Paxton at a similar price ($11 million for the Bot vs. $8.5 million for Pax) or Masahiro Tanaka at another four-or-so million per year. He knew full well Paxton’s medicals and reduced velocity were worrisome and unlikely to improve, and unfortunately for everyone, he turned out to be correct.

He had to sit through a long month of slander related to everything Yankees in April 2021, but a lot of the Kluber chatter seemed the loudest when the righty was at his rustiest. After all, this was basically a “this or that?” decision between a beloved Yankee vet, a familiar lefty, and an unknown 35-year-old.

Clearly, though, there was more in Kluber’s tank, and our GM deserves more credit for believing in him. Once again, the process was sound, and the results are starting to match.