Brian Cashman believes he has upgraded Yankees with Joey Gallo, Anthony Rizzo, Andrew Heaney
MIAMI — Brian Cashman has a variety of pet phrases he goes to, often more than a few times in a given year.
Among them when it comes to the talent on his roster: "My job is to get better than what I have."
The longtime general manager has no doubt that he got several upgrades before Friday’s trade deadline that better position the Yankees to make a run at the AL East title or a wild-card spot.
"I know we’re better today than we were yesterday," Cashman said. "But I also know everyone got better. It’s going to be fun to watch."
After bringing in a pair of lefthanded hitters with power in the Rangers' Joey Gallo and the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo, Cashman hit his trifecta of deadline desires a little more than an hour before the 4 p.m. deadline, obtaining lefthanded starter Andrew Heaney from the Angels in exchange for minor-league righthanders Janson Junk and Elvis Peguero. Heaney, 30, who Cashman said will go straight into the rotation, is 6-7 with a 5.27 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 94 innings in 18 starts.
"Obviously, we have a two-month sprint now to try to push ourselves into the postseason and take a shot at the ultimate prize," said Cashman, whose team came into Friday 53-48, 8 ½ games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox and 3 ½ games out of the AL’s second wild-card spot (two in the loss column). "We felt this enhances those opportunities for us."
Derek Jeter, for one, wasn’t surprised to see the big splashes made by his former team.
"Look, I’ve said it before, the Steinbrenner family, from The Boss to Hal, they’re always trying to get better, get better, get better, and they don’t hesitate to make big moves," Jeter, the Marlins' CEO, told a small group of reporters from New York before Friday’s game. "So I’m not surprised by it."
Gallo was born in Las Vegas but grew up a "huge" Yankees fan as the son of parents from Long Island. Jeter was his favorite player.
"It was pretty surreal when they [the Rangers] told me I was going to the Yankees," said Gallo, who like so many new Yankees had to shear off the bushy beard he’d been sporting. "It’s a great opportunity . . . just walking into the locker room and looking at the nameplates . . . It’s pretty amazing to be a part of a team like that."
Gallo, hitting .223 but with 25 homers and an .869 OPS, will play primarily in left but also could see time in center and right in addition to getting some reps at third or even first.
"Gallo I’ve been trying to get for quite some time," Cashman said. "I thought we were close in spring training [this year], didn’t happen. He’s been someone we’ve been checking in on and trying to acquire for quite some time because we thought he’d be a nice fit. Rizzo developed under more recent circumstances [in the last week]."
Rizzo, a three-time All-Star and four-time NL Gold Glove winner, hit .248 with 14 homers and a .792 OPS in 92 games with the Cubs, for whom he played for the last 10 years.
"That emotion of it was definitely hard," Rizzo said of hearing he’d been dealt. "But then when you turn the page and you see you get traded to the New York Yankees and you get to put this uniform on and you go from one historic franchise to another, it’s just an amazing feeling."
Rizzo and Heaney will be free agents after this season and Gallo is under control through next year. Cashman said the moves were made entirely with "the 2021 effort" in mind.
"Our intent was to try to increase our chances, give our team an improved opportunity to compete the rest of the way," Cashman said. "That’s really been the focus."