STAMFORD, Conn. — Major League Baseball’s lockout of its players — enacted by owners at midnight on Thursday after the sides failed to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement — means locked-up mouths of those involved in procuring players for their teams.
And so, under strict orders from the Commissioner’s Office, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman — typically one of the more verbose general managers in the game — found himself in the position of having very little to say Friday morning.
"I really can’t comment on anything Major League Baseball-wise," Cashman said.
Cashman, heavily layered in warm clothing, spoke atop the 22-story Landmark Building here before rappelling down its side in a practice run for Sunday’s annual Heights and Lights tree-lighting ceremony. He’s been part of it for the last 11 years.
A small group of reporters tried to get Cashman to offer anything about the state of the Yankees, who were not part of the flurry of activity in the game before it shut down.
Was it frustrating to have the offseason come to a sudden halt, having not done much with his 2022 roster?
"Again, decline to comment,'' Cashman said. "Anything regarding our industry’s current circumstances, I can’t really speak to."
Before the lockout, was he given a specific budget by managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner?
"I cannot speak to anything regarding the industry currently,'' he said. "So I’m taking my orders from above and I will take those very seriously."
During the lockout, is Cashman allowed to engage with other GMs, even in a general sense, on trade concepts and the like?
"I’m not allowed to discuss anything, what I can [do], what I can’t, what I’ve been advised [to do],'' he said. "I’m not allowed to discuss anything on or off the record with members of the media, for instance, or [other teams]."
So what can Cashman do during a lockout that, based on the comments from both sides of the aisle Thursday, seems destined to last into 2022 and could imperil the start of spring training and perhaps even the start of the regular season?
All teams are allowed to be involved in the minor league Rule 5 draft (not the major league one), and clubs are able to sign players to minor league deals.
Additionally, teams are allowed to address managerial and/or coaching openings, something Cashman is putting the finishing touches on when it comes to Aaron Boone’s staff.
The Yankees need a third base coach and first base coach to replace Phil Nevin and Reggie Willits, respectively. They plan to hire three hitting coaches and two pitching coaches (hitting coach Marcus Thames and his assistant, P.J. Pilittere, were let go but pitching coach Matt Blake was retained).
"I feel like we are down the tracks with our major league coaching staff," Cashman said. "We’re dotting the I’s and crossing the T's. That’s something that will be revealed here, if it’s permissible, at some point."
Why the need for multiple hitting and pitching coaches?
"I think that the industry has expanded and changed over the course of time with technology and analytics and obviously biomechanics, along with collaboration with the strength and conditioning department in the training room, that it’s become incumbent for people to consider at least expanding their staffs because there’s so much more ability to try to assist and impact an individual player with all that type information," Cashman said. "So it takes time to assemble it."
And at the moment, Cashman and his brethren in the game have nothing but time.