Despite being the main architect of four World Series titles, so far the 2013 New York Yankees have been GM Brian Cashman’s best job.
This past offseason wasn’t a typical one for the often-active Cashman. With Yankees ownership wanting to get their payroll below the 2014 luxury tax threshold of $189 million, Cashman was forced to watch players like Nick Swisher, Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin leave the Bronx.
Instead of replacing those departures with high-priced talent like Cashman would’ve had the luxury of doing in the past, he leaned on in-house options and directed his attention towards some of the older players on the market, players like Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner.
With Spring Training injuries to established stars Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira, combined with the already-injured Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees appeared destined to miss October baseball for just the second time in Cashman’s tenure.
As Spring Training progressed, with Cashman’s roster looking more and more like the Houston Astros than the Bronx Bombers lineup which we’re accustomed to, the 16-year Yankee GM remained patient. As the late Spring Training releases began to unfold, Cashman got active, piecing through what is the equivalent of the rest of the league’s garbage.
Out of this group, Cashman decided to sign Brennan Boesch, Ben Francisco, and first baseman Lyle Overbay. Cashman then went out and traded for former All-Star outfielder Vernon Wells from the Los Angeles Angels, picking up just a third of his extravagant contract.
Wells has gone on to resurrect his career, hitting 10 home runs in his first 40 games in pinstripes. Overbay, who they grabbed after being released by the Boston Red Sox, took over primary first base duties and at age 37, is off to maybe the best start of his career.
In addition to these under-the-radar acquisitions, another crucial element has been the play of some of the Yankee farmhands. With many of the system’s biggest prospects slotted in Single-A and Double-A, the Yankee system wasn’t expected to play a major role in 2013.
However, with in-season injuries to Youkilis, Eduardo Nunez, Francisco Cervelli, Joba Chamberlain, Ivan Nova and recently Andy Pettitte, the organizations depth was called upon.
Prospects like Preston Claiborne, Vidal Nuno, Adam Warren, Austin Romine, Corban Joseph and David Adams have all been brought to the Bronx to fill their shoes and be a piece to the puzzle. Cashman has not only built and developed a deep system; he’s shown a knack for promoting the right prospects at the right times.
As the season goes on, with the high-priced Yankees stars on the road to recovery, the AL East leading Yankees will begin to transition away from these prospects and back to the players we’re accustomed to. Cashman will in turn go back to being viewed as having the easiest job in all of baseball, as the GM with the biggest budget.
For right now, though, let’s not take him for granted.