Contrary to expectations, the AL East-leading Yankees held pat on deadline day. GM Brian Cashman says the club “knocked on all doors” but ultimately “didn’t get close to anything” when push came to shove, as ESPN.com’s Cole Harvey was among those to cover.
In the build-up to July 31st, the Bronx Bombers were connected to a laundry list of pitchers, especially of the starting variety. Robbie Ray, Mike Minor, Madison Bumgarner, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler … there were many rumored connections, and likely other possibilities as well. Ultimately, none of those hurlers ended up changing hands, but the Yanks did watch as other orgs snapped up Zack Greinke (who almost certainly wasn’t an option in New York), Marcus Stroman (who was, but landed across town), and Trevor Bauer (perhaps the most obvious match, who somewhat curiously went to the Reds).
What happened? Per Cashman, in some cases the Yankees simply “didn’t match up” with a rival on a given pitcher. In others, players “weren’t really available even though they’re widely talked about in a public setting” owing to “contract status issues or medical issues.” In the end, he said, “it’s just a lot of different individual circumstances that basically put us in a position to not be able to complete anything.”
It’s obviously fair to wonder whether the Yankees were too focused on value and not attentive enough to the present. The game’s preeminent franchise is a decade removed from its last World Series crown and hasn’t won the division since 2012. While the AL East is all but in hand, there are still scenarios where the Yanks are nipped by the Rays (who added multiple pieces) or Red Sox (who didn’t). And then there’s the postseason, an inherent minefield that is sure to include a powerhouse Astros club that just made the single biggest addition of any team in Greinke.
It’s not as if Cashman wasn’t aware of all that. But ultimately, the veteran exec said, “the best play was we did nothing.” While the goal was to add more, after prior deals brought in slugger Edwin Encarnacion and late-season speed demon Terrance Gore, “the fallback has always been we know we have a good club already.” At the end of the day, Cashman preferred to hold fast rather than going well beyond the team’s own valuations. While he expressed an “understanding that as a buyer, you have to step up and pay,” the long-time Yanks’ GM suggests the asks were simply unreasonable. As he put it, “these were prices that were making things way out of reach — way out of reach and way out of line.”