As the trade deadline nears, the Yankees will probably be linked to every impact player available on the market. If the team gets shutout, have no fear, Carlos Beltran is on the way. Or, if Bartolo Colon stumbles again, there’s still no reason to fret. Ubaldo Jimenez is being measured for pinstripes. Whatever the Yankees’ need, the next two weeks will provide a rumor to fill it. Of course, much of the rampant speculation will likely be news to even Brian Cashman.
Although it’s fun to identify acquisition candidates based on marquee value, it’s sometimes more constructive to examine the relationships between general managers. For example, if the Red Sox need reinforcements, there’s a good chance Theo Epstein will turn to the San Diego Padres. Not only is Padres’ GM Jed Hoyer a former Red Sox’ executive, but the two teams have made 11 trades since Epstein took the reins in Boston.
Since being named Yankees’ GM on February 3, 1998, Brian Cashman has made over 100 trades, including at least one with every team but the rival Boston Red Sox. Over the last five years, however, his concentration has been more focused on teams like the Pirates, Tigers, and Indians. Unfortunately for Cashman, all three of those clubs find themselves in the thick of the pennant race, so the Yankees’ general manager will have to look elsewhere this time around. Considering his status high atop the tenure list, Cashman should have plenty of familiar partners to fall back upon.
Although many Yankees’ fan will be expecting Brian Cashman to hit a homerun before the end of the month, if history is a guide, they’ll likely be disappointed. With the exception of the 2006 acquisition of Bobby Abreu, the Yankees haven’t made much a splash at the trade deadline during Cashman’s term as GM (however, the Yankees have made significant pick-ups, like David Justice, in June). In fact, based on the WAR, the most impactful acquisition was one largely ignored at the time.
When the Yankees traded for Shawn Chacon in 2005, not too many people expected him to play a significant role in the pennant race, but the right hander went 7-3 with a 2.85 ERA over the last two months of the season. Along with reclamation project Aaron Small, Chacon, who also pitched well in his one post season start, proved instrumental to the Yankees not only winning the A.L. East, but making the playoffs.
Besides Chacon (WAR of 2.7), Bobby Abreu, Kerry Wood, and, surprisingly, Glenallen Hill, were the only players to give the Yankees more than one win above replacement after the deadline. However, other acquisitions were able to leave an indelible mark. In particular, Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run against the Red Sox in game seven of the 2003 ALCS more than made up for his more modest regular season contribution. Also, although he didn’t contribute much in the same year as his acquisition (or since), Damaso Marte proved to be a vital component of the bullpen during the Yankees’ 2009 World Series run.
With Alex Rodriguez out of the lineup and the Yankees rotation filled with question marks, there will undoubtedly be pressure on Cashman to pull the trigger on a big deal, especially after last year’s aborted deal for Cliff Lee. Nonetheless, the Yankees’ GM has proven that patience is one of his best virtues, so if the team does make an acquisition before the deadline, it’s unlikely to be worthy of a banner headline…at least not until October.