Yankees general manager Brian Cashman sat down the YES Network’s Michael Kay prior to yesterday’s first-half finale to discuss his team’s philosophy with the non-waiver trade deadline just three weeks away (video link). Cashman labeled the Yankees as “careful buyers,” with the implication being that the team will strive to improve its playoff hopes in 2017 without significantly mortgaging its future by trading away its very best minor leaguers.
“We have a long-term plan that I think people are seeing the excitement from, and we’re definitely not going to deviate from that,” said Cashman. “…Part of that long-term plan is in the short term — winning now and putting out the best effort possible, but not at the expense of what we feel can lead us to more championships, plural. … If we can find that balancing act and retain the players we desperately need to retain … I think that’s the walk we’re trying to walk.”
Cashman specifically lamented the fact that the team has had to scramble to piece together its relief corps in recent weeks, noting that scenarios like relief prospect Ronald Herrera flying cross-country to Anaheim and making his MLB debut in the eighth inning that same night is far from ideal. The New York GM also flatly called his team’s output from first base in 2017 “horrific.” That’s due largely to injuries to Greg Bird and Tyler Austin, and it remains to be seen if Bird will get back on the field and contribute at all in the season’s second half.
Per Cashman, Bird is receiving further opinions on his ankle today, so it’s possible that there’ll be an update on him in the near future. The Yankees, it seems, are waiting to gather a bit more information on that front before taking any type of action. What seems clear based on Cashman’s comments, though, is that even if it’s determined that a first-base upgrade is needed in 2017, it’s likely to be short-term help.
“[Bird] is the best scenario,” said Cashman. “This guy is a hell of a ballplayer when right and when healthy. He’s been unhealthy, obviously, for the first half. That was unexpected. It’s gone on for an extended period of time. … At the end of the day, our personal preference is that this guy should be manning first base for years to come. We’re doing everything we can with him, his agency, to find the answers to the questions that currently ail him. If not, we’ll try to fix it while keeping in mind that Greg Bird is still the future first baseman.”
MLBTR’s Connor Byrne recently ran down a number of plausible first base options for the Yankees. While several of those potentially available first basemen are longer-term assets that clash with Cashman’s comments, others such as Yonder Alonso and Lucas Duda are impending free agents that align more closely with that long-term plan (depending on the asking price, of course). White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier, too, is another free-agent-to-be that comes with a fairly significant amount of experience at first base.
Ultimately, Cashman was straightforward in suggesting that his aim is to be active on this year’s trade market, telling Kay: We hope to do something, but I’m not going to guarantee anything’s going to happen.” The team, in fact, has already been active in talks for several weeks, though Cashman referenced lofty “sticker prices” from selling clubs, adding that he believes fans would be thankful that he’s turned away the offers that have been presented to him thus far due to the extreme asking prices in terms of prospect capital.