In the end, Brian Cashman deemed the prices for available pitchers — both starters and relievers — to be too high.
The Yankees general manager stood fast at his line in the sand of the prospects he was and wasn’t willing to trade before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. deadline, whereas the team considered to be the team's’ chief competition to win the AL pennant, the Astros, weren’t as conservative, adding Zack Greinke.
And so Cashman came away empty-handed in his lengthy search to strengthen his rotation and bullpen, with the former especially needing bolstering.
“It wasn’t for a lack of effort,” Cashman said early Wednesday evening. “We didn’t get close to anything … I feel comfortable walking away from everything that was in front of me because those weren’t real opportunities as far as where my conversations were going. So the fallback is to look in that room and the players we have and feel really good about those guys.”
What the AL-East leading Yankees have in that clubhouse, with no further chance at adding to it as the Aug. 31 waiver deadline no longer exists, is a top-flight offense and a bullpen that still rates among the best in the sport, particularly at the back end, though with concerns over the workloads of Aroldis Chapman, Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle and Zack Britton. And then there’s a rotation that has been an unmitigated disaster of late, with little indication of improvement, including Wednesday afternoon against Arizona, when Masahiro Tanaka allowed two runs and five hits in four ho-hum innings.
The Yankees had an interest in just about every starter that could have been had before the deadline. Some of those pitchers moved — Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer and Toronto’s Marcus Stroman, for example — and some of those did not. Among the names in that group that the Yankees had significant interest but found the prices exorbitant were Arizona’s Robbie Ray, Detroit’s Matthew Boyd — the Tigers asked for Gleyber Torres — San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner and the Mets' Zack Wheeler. The interest in Wheeler, according to industry insiders, was one way for the most part. Regardless of the noise suggesting otherwise, few behind the scenes could envision a scenario where Mets ownership OK’d any kind of deal that potentially could provide the Yankees a final puzzle piece for a World Series
A rotation pockmarked all season by inconsistency has had Domingo German (13-2, 4.08 ERA) emerge as its ace. But the 26-year-old is on a not-yet-disclosed innings limit and, generally speaking, is untested in the cauldron of September and/or October baseball.
Reinforcements could arrive at some point in September with, the Yankees hope, Dellin Betances and Luis Severino. But neither has thrown from a mound in their respective rehab programs and the Yankees can't count on significant contributions from either one.
A wild card who could provide help from the bullpen within the next month is Jonathan Loaisiga, who just started a rehab assignment with Double-A Trenton.
As for the Astros, Cashman isn’t concerning himself with them just yet. Even with a club that knocked off his team in the 2017 ALCS and now in a postseason series can use Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Greinke the first three games.
October, as it always is, will be the final battleground to determine which team’s deadline approach was best.
“Let’s find out,” Cashman said Wednesday, when asked about the size of gap the Astros might have opened with their deadline moves. “We have to take care of our own business to put ourselves in position to be one of those fortunate teams to play in October, and take our roster up against whoever and see where it takes us.”