Brian Cashman is one of the best general managers in baseball, but his prospect hugging has hurt the Yankees numerous times. None more than Cliff Lee.
It is no question that Brian Cashman is one of, if not, the best GM in baseball. He has made countless incredible trades for the Yankees. No general manager is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, but there is one flaw in Cashman’s game and it’s his prospect hugging. There is one case of Cashman’s prospect hugging that stands out from the rest and that is the (almost) Cliff Lee trade. Let us look back at trade that got away.
Setting the Stage
The 2010 Yankees were fresh off their World Series run in 2009 and looking to repeat. The team was practically the same, and they even added Curtis Granderson. They tasted what it felt like to win it all and they were hungry for more.
By July 8, The Yankees were 54-31, slightly better than the 50-34 record they were at on that date in 2009. The offense firing on all cylinders, but the rotation needed a boost. The perfect guy was on the market, one who had dominated the Yankees in his two starts against them in the World Series the previous year, Cliff Lee. Lee had been traded to the Mariners in December of ’09 and was on the trade block yet again.
The (almost) Trade
Cashman had his sights set and with a bunch of young talent in the farm system, there was no doubt he had the players to get the deal done. On July 9, 2010, The Yankees and M’s actually had a deal in place for Lee. In that deal, The Yankees would send top Prospect Jesus Montero, David Adams, and Zach McAllister to the M’s in exchange for Lee, but something went wrong. Adams had issues with his physical and the Yankees then offered Adam Warren.
The Mariners said no and countered by asking for them to add either Eduardo Nunez or Ivan Nova. Cashman wasn’t willing to give either up, as at the time they had bright futures. Lee was then traded later that day to the Rangers in exchange for a couple of prospects. The Yankees would meet the Rangers in the ALCS and Lee would be given the ball in game three at Yankee Stadium. He would throw eight dominant scoreless innings, striking out 13 and giving up two hits. The Rangers would go on to win the series in six games.
Looking back on it knowing how the careers of Nova and Nunez played out, you would 100% make the trade. Even at the moment, you still have to take the risk. Your goal is to defend your title and win it all. Balking at the Cliff Lee trade cost the Yankees another ring as he was the missing piece that they needed.