Yankees avoided reliever disaster as Brian Cashman's impeccable offseason lives on

Hat tip to Cash. The luck has turned around a bit.
Chicago White Sox v St. Louis Cardinals
Chicago White Sox v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages

Though the New York Yankees have once again dealt with their fair share of brutal injuries and have been operating with a sort of skeleton crew in the bullpen, general manager Brian Cashman largely avoided disaster with his offseason decision making and has done a terrific job putting this team on a path to win another championship.

Fans were gifted another reminder of that over the weekend. No, it wasn't the dominant sweep of the San Francisco Giants. It came in the form of an injury update in St. Louis.

Remember Keynan Middleton? The Yankees' lone 2023 trade deadline acquisition that Cashman just threw at the wall in hopes the hapless roster would somehow be revived by a middle innings reliever? That'll wake up a dead group of players!

Cash was criticized for that being his only transaction because of how many other holes the roster had, but at the very least, the GM didn't overextend himself and re-sign the former White Sox pitcher this past offseason.

The Yankees bowed out of what became a bit of a bidding war for Middleton, who ended up signing with the Cardinals on a one-year, $11 million contract. Far too pricey for a talent of Middleton's caliber, and definitely too pricey when factoring in the Yankees' payroll situation.

And DEFINITELY too pricey when you consider Middleton hasn't thrown a pitch this year as he went for a second opinion on his strained forearm and it was determined he needed season-ending surgery.

Yankees avoided reliever disaster as Brian Cashman's impeccable offseason lives on

Coincidentally, Middleton traveled to New York to meet with Yankees' Dr. Chris Ahmad, who is a Tommy John surgery specialist. The right-hander's season was over before it even started, which will turn out to be a considerable sunk cost for the Cards.

Had the Yanks prioritized Middleton, who missed time with them last year due to a shoulder issue, their bullpen picture would be far more contentious topic. It's one thing to have Scott Effross and Lou Trivino bogged down by injuries and setbacks. It's an entirely different thing to have thrown $11 million into the trash during a season they couldn't afford to.

There's already been enough frustration surrounding Tommy Kahnle's two-year, $11 million contract because of how unavailable/unreliable in certain situations he's been. Re-signing Middleton, even discounting his current injury, would've been teetering on desperation. The Yankees have been great at creating bullpen contributors out of thin air — they definitely didn't need to pay an elevated price for a largely unconvincing talent.

Helps drive the argument home that he hasn't thrown a pitch this year and probably won't until the end of 2025, too.