TAMPA, Fla. — Brian Cashman knows about the hype surrounding his team, understands it and embraces it to a degree.
But on Monday morning, as the Yankees started their first full-squad workout, there were no declarations that channeled George Steinbrenner.
“I’m not going to say World Series or bust,” Cashman said. “I have too much respect for all the teams and players we have yet to go up against. It’s my job to provide as much talent as we possibly can to put us in the position to compete for that and let it play out. We’re proud of what we’ve done, but the goal is to win a world championship.”
Cashman was quick to point out — as he did throughout the offseason after adding National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton to the mix — that the Red Sox are the defending AL East champion and the Astros, who beat the Yankees in seven games in the ALCS, are the defending World Series champion.
“Our first focus has to be more so the Red Sox,” Cashman said. “The best teams are in the American League. We know we have our work cut out for us.”
Adding Stanton and his 59 homers to a lineup that has Aaron Judge, among others, has created anticipation around the club not seen in a while, probably not since 2010, when the Yankees entered spring training as the defending World Series champion.
“I think there’s more excitement because of what we did last year and the addition of Stanton,” Cashman said. “No doubt the buzz from the winter and coming into the spring is a lot louder and more positive, and that’s our job. Our job is to put ourselves in position to be relevant and be considered championship-caliber and a contender. But Houston’s a great champion, so it’s going to take a lot to take them out.”
Though the roster looks solid top to bottom, Cashman continues to look for starting pitching depth and isn’t against adding a veteran infielder as insurance at second and/or third. Open competitions will be held at both positions in spring training, with a pair of top prospects, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, firmly in the mix as possibilities.
Cashman typically says it’s his job not to be comfortable and always on the lookout for problems.
His concerns now?
“Injuries and then the competition,” he said. “There’s a high respect level for Cleveland, Houston, Boston, amongst others. Minnesota made a lot of moves this winter, Anaheim’s done a lot. Listen, it’s a new landscape, new teams, new strengths, new weaknesses. We’ll see where it takes us. The biggest thing is staying healthy and making sure you can deploy the maximum amount of weapons you have on a daily basis.”
Regardless of whether or not the Yankees win it all this season, the franchise is as healthy as it’s been in years and seems poised to be — at the very least — a perennial contender for the foreseeable future.
“We hope so, but the goal is to find a way to win the next one. To need another ring is the goal,” said Cashman, who has been the general manager since 1998. “I need another ring. I’ve got rings, but there’s other guys in there that don’t have a ring. Some have rings somewhere else; they want a Yankee ring. I think having a ring with an ‘NY’ on it means more than any of the other ones out there, in my opinion. So ultimately and collectively, we’re going to try and find a way to get that done.”