The New York Yankees, with the power to become a financial behemoth that lords over the rest of the league at the drop of a hat, remain strategic spenders, only pursuing one long-term commitment at a time. Some would call it financial prudence. Others would call it weakness.
Still, though fans of the team wish the ownership group would spend more, it can’t be denied that one could put together a winning team with a similar payroll. Despite cuts back, the Yankees are still in the stratosphere, ranking third in baseball behind the Mets and Dodgers with a $211.2 million payroll in 2022.
That puts the man in charge of the allocation of resources under the microscope. Though Brian Cashman has long been impressive at uncovering diamonds in the rough at the margins, he can’t seem to stop himself from hamstringing the payroll by absorbing large-scale trash piles from other franchises or signing relievers, No. 4 starters and depth pieces to a cost that adds up to one (1) Justin Verlander.
Fair or not, Cashman is criticized for his inaction/holding onto prospects too long, then criticized when he inevitably cashes in some of those prospects for a target everyone agrees will help, but turns out to be a bust. Sonny Gray was good process! Unfortunately, Sonny Gray also stunk. Such is the circle of baseball.
Whether you believe in CashGod or not, you have to admit that one title in 22 years isn’t enough for a team with this much of a baked-in financial advantage. And that one title? Fully bought, won after a spending spree including Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia. Given the opportunity to do that, Cash is your man. Otherwise, it’s probably time for him to be promoted to “GM Emeritus,” while someone fresh gets the final say on things.
NOTE: Bizarre rumors of discontent surrounding Houston Astros GM James Click have begun to circulate, but … it’s impossible to imagine Houston letting Click go directly to the Yankees without receiving a promotion.
Even the Rays (and their top executive is included here) are more likely to relent and let New York give their employee a boost than the Astros, who’ve become the modern day Red Sox to the current failed Yankees.
Being slightly more realistic here…
3 alternatives to Brian Cashman for 2023 Yankees
3. David Stearns
Stearns, in charge of the Milwaukee Brewers’ rise at the margins, has long been an attractive candidate for big-city teams with higher payrolls who’d like to see him level up his roster-shaping with a bigger budget. Think Chaim Bloom, Andrew Friedman or any of the other Rays castoffs who’ve gotten a leg up on the competition simply by being Rays.
If Stearns can build a consistent winner/pitching talent pipeline in Milwaukee by fleecing opponents of undervalued assets, imagine what he can do when he’s also able to sign Jacob deGrom!
Sometimes, this philosophy pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t because the new GM isn’t quite as financially free as he believes he’s going to be (Bloom in Boston, uh, and whoever joins the Yankees under Hal Steinbrenner probably). That uncertainty hasn’t stopped the Mets from being heavily linked to hiring Stearns, who’s long been under contract in Milwaukee while fending off their advances.
If the Yankees want to crash Steve Cohen’s party while Cohen’s distracted by the Aaron Judge chase, they can plan their own unlikely pursuit of Stearns, too.