Omar Minaya reveals bombshell Yankees trade he almost pulled off

MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 01: Zack Wheeler #45 and Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets look on against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on April 01, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 01: Zack Wheeler #45 and Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets look on against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on April 01, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Former New York Mets (and Montreal Expos) GM Omar Minaya doesn’t have to do much hard work to ingratiate himself to Yankees fans after his introductory press conference leaned heavily on being an old-school voice in a new-school world.

Analytics are undoubtedly essential to modern baseball operation, but … something about the Yankees’ analytics team has seemed off in recent years. Decisions like gifting endless playing time to Isiah Kiner-Falefa despite poor defensive metrics, as well as the shock and awe of every Joey Gallo at-bat post-trade, have felt like significant steps backward in terms of grasping reality.

Brian Cashman will be returning for the next four years, and that’ll serve a purpose. He’s been adept at filling gaps with shrewd trades, and can clearly close big-money deals when Hal Steinbrenner gives him the go-ahead. Still, the Yankees should always be in the market for fresh voices — especially when those voices have done plenty of winning elsewhere.

Ex-Giants GM (and former Yankees steward) Brian Sabean rejoined the franchise on Tuesday, pledging that a World Series win would be his primary goal upon signing onto the scouting operation.

When Minaya arrived on Thursday, he preached the virtues of having a keen eye for shifts in humanity rather than numerals.

Mets’ Omar Minaya almost traded Zack Wheeler to Yankees in 2018

A tried-and-true New Yorker, Minaya also wooed the crowd with tales of being in the crowd for Bat Day at Yankee Stadium in the ’60s and securing a Hector Lopez model.

Those were among the franchise’s darkest and least star-studded days, so if Minaya was riding with them then, he should fit in well now.

He nearly reached the mountaintop during his time as GM of the Mets, a position he held from the end of 2004 to 2010. The 2006 team was the best and brightest modern Mets group, winning 97 games and securing the NL East by 12 victories. However, Minaya eventually left under fire, especially for the way he and his team handled the circus-like dismissal of Yankees captain Willie Randolph from the managerial role.

Minaya returned to the Mets after the 2017 season and briefly stepped into his old GM shoes as Sandy Alderson took a leave of absence related to his cancer treatments. During that brief window in 2018, it turns out Minaya was partially responsible for the failed trade heard ’round the world that summer when Cashman’s Yankees nearly acquired Mets starter Zack Wheeler.

We’ll be wondering about that potential package ’til the cows come home, and the 2019 Yankees certainly could’ve used an arm like Wheeler’s; he was responsible for 195 Ks in 195.1 innings in what was, at that point, the most durable season of his career.

Maybe New York never surrenders Justus Sheffield for James Paxton after the 2018 season, instead having given up Sheff and Co. for Wheeler a few months earlier? The men who know exactly what type of trade was nearly consummated — as well as how and why it fell apart — now share a common goal in the Bronx, which seems like a more effective way for them to operate.