LONDON — It is among the most often heard of Brian Cashman’s go-to phrases.
“My job,” the longtime Yankees general manager says, “is to worry.”
That’s in good times and in bad, and the times could not be much better.
The AL East-leading Yankees have won 13 of their last 14 games and are coming off their two-game demolition of the Red Sox in the London Series this past weekend. At an American League-best 54-28, they are 6 1/2 games ahead of the Rays (eight in the loss column) and 11 games ahead of the reigning World Series champion Red Sox (12 in the loss column). They also have the fewest losses in the majors and are one game behind the Dodgers for the best record in MLB.
Still, Cashman is looking ahead to the July 31 trade deadline — and has been since last month’s draft — with a degree of worry. His primary goal is exactly what you’d expect.
“I’d love to add pitching if I can. Whether it’s the bullpen, rotation, just reinforce our pitching,” he said over the weekend. “And get our pitching that’s hurt healthy and have the pitching we currently have stay healthy.”
The Yankees have been without Luis Severino all season, and the ace’s recent setback with his lat injury makes an appearance at any point this year a question mark. Domingo German, the staff leader with nine wins, is expected back at some point this week, but he remains an unproven commodity. Masahiro Tanaka has mostly pitched well this season, but the six runs he allowed in the first inning Saturday immediately after being given a 6-0 lead gave pause. And James Paxton and J.A. Happ haven’t been at all consistent.
In terms of the marketplace, expect the Yankees to touch base with every team that has a starter available, though the standings dictate that more than anything else. The Giants will listen to offers for lefthander Madison Bumgarner and the Yankees, who have discussed him, will be interested. But for the “get an ace!” crowd, it is never that simple.
For example, a month ago, Max Scherzer appeared as if he would be available, but the Nationals have played their way back into contention. Diamondbacks lefthander Robbie Ray has interested the Yankees, but Arizona remains on the cusp of NL wild-card contention. The same goes for the Indians, who could make one of their starters available (Trevor Bauer leads the list) but are firmly in the mix for the wild card.
Want to give up Gleyber Torres for a pitcher? No? Well, that’s whom the Tigers reportedly asked for in exchange for lefthander Matthew Boyd.
The prices in early July are astronomical and likely will stay that way until the deadline gets closer. The groundwork for deals, however, is getting laid now, and that process continued even with Cashman overseas.
“I have nothing to show for my efforts,” said Cashman, whose team will begin a two-game series against the Mets at Citi Field on Tuesday night. “But I’ve stayed engaged since I’ve been over here.”
Cashman said that on his first night in London, “I couldn’t sleep” at 1:30 a.m. local time (8:30 p.m. ET) and was exchanging texts with opposing general managers. He joked that some of his texts in Saturday’s first inning, when Tanaka was getting shelled, might have been seen as desperation.
“I’m like, ‘Oh, now they’re going to perceive this like now [he] really needs pitching because I just gave up six,’” Cashman said.
Asked about the potential of utilizing an opener in October, he recoiled.
“We have a long way to go,” Cashman said. “I know we’re in a good spot, but a lot of things can happen along the way. So we need to reinforce the club now so I can be in the position to decide what’s best for us in October. But we haven’t secured anything.”