With the Yankees recent additions and subtractions, it leaves us all pondering the question if Brian Cashman is the best GM in MLB.
Cash, Cashgod, Ninja… Just a few ways that fans have come to acknowledge the Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. Could he also don the title of the MLB’s best executive?
1998 was a monumental point in Yankees history. Not only did the Yankees have the most wins in franchise history with 114, their 24th world championship with a sweep of the San Diego Padres, but it also marked the first year in the ongoing tenure of Brian Cashman as GM of the Yankees.
Replacing Bob Watson, Cashman was the young, hip and intelligent new guy, serving as a symbol for the direction that the Yankees were attempting to head in. With George Steinbrenner still running the show, the Yankees leaned less on intelligence and more on splash– going on to acquire some fairly big names along the way, including Alex Rodriguez, C.C Sabathia, Mark Teixeira among others.
As ownership transitioned following Mr. Steinbrenner’s passing, alongside the game of baseball evolving with the oncoming trend of analytics, Brian Cashman truly began flexing his muscles.
The Yankees were, in a sense, handcuffed with all of the big contracts coming from the reckless spending years. The Yankees remained competitive past their 2000 world series but never saw another ring. In 2008, the final year of the old Yankee Stadium, the Yanks failed to reach the postseason and left fans with a bad taste in their mouths. This led Cashman and ownership to spend big in the winter of 2008, acquiring previously mentioned big names C.C Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and rotation piece A.J. Burnett, amongst others.
The new look Yankees delivered immediately, winning the world series in 2009. However, once again, they found themselves waiting for poor contracts to come off the books. This time was far more impactful as the club failed to reach 90 wins from 2012 up until the 2017 team, which won 91 games. Fans were witnessing mediocre team provide mediocre results, but behind the scenes, Brian Cashman was building for a brighter day.
With advanced scouts in and out of the country, the Yankees were drafting and signing international talent under the radar. The 2013 draft, in particular, saw the Yankees draft current superstar outfielder Aaron Judge. The Yankees also signed Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, and Miguel Andujar, who are all major contributors as well. The team also brought in highly touted Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka after beating out a number of teams for his services. This is not only a result of top-notch scouting but general manager Brian Cashman who instills the allure of the Yankees in every target on any market.
Cashman’s genius extends on to the trade market. Taking part of what could end up being the greatest, or at least smartest trades of recent memory in 2016, Cashman dealt closer Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs for Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, Billy Mckinney, and Rashad Crawford. On the surface, it appeared the Yankees were selling and got some good pieces in return and the Cubs eventually broke a 100+ year world series curse.
Today, the Yankees have Aroldis Chapman back in their bullpen as their closer via free agency and Gleyber Torres is their all-star second baseman. Other notable trades include flipping backup catcher J.R Murphy for breakout starting centerfielder Aaron Hicks, Shane Green for all-star shortstop Didi Gregorius and most recently, Chasen Shreve & Giovanny Gallegos for breakout fan favorite Luke Voit.
With four world championships and six American League pennants under his belt, the Yankees have already seen success in the past 20 years with Cashman at the helm. However, coming off of an oddly disappointing 100 win season, which the archrival Boston Red Sox win the division by eight games, eliminate the Yankees in four games, and win the world series, Cashman and his team find himself in a position to “flex their muscles” once again. In a decisive winter for the 2018 wild card winners, we could see another championship roster sculpted, and potentially Brian Cashman solidifying himself as the game’s best general manager.