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SportsColumnistsDavid Lennon

Unlike fans, Brian Cashman has to look at the big picture

One way around escalating free-agent costs is to develop your own players, and Cashman insists that no team invests more on that front than the Yankees despite being saddled by the MLB-imposed limits on international spending.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman takes the field

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman takes the field during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

TAMPA, Fla. — To those who choose to berate the Yankees as being too budget-conscious or even flat-out negligent for not giving $300 million to Manny Machado, or whatever record-breaking sum Scott Boras manages to extract for Bryce Harper in the near future, Brian Cashman had this to say Friday at Steinbrenner Field:

You don’t know what you’re talking about.

“I just want to make good, sound business decisions,” Cashman said. “I know in this world of social media, there’s a lot of haters, judgers and experts that come along the way, and that’s fine. Fans are short for fanatics, and I get that too. But our job is to make objective decisions and based on real facts. You just want people to be as objective as you are.

“In fairness to people out there that take those positions, they don’t have all the information. I think if they were in a better position to get all the data points that guide our decision-making, they’d be in a better position to understand every course we plot. We’re comfortable with what we have and what we’ve done. We believe in what we’ve got.”

Cashman’s blueprint for 2019 will be tested soon enough, and on the same day Machado was officially introduced by the Padres, the Yankees’ general manager was grilled about his offseason strategy beneath a blazing Tampa sun.

In regards to Machado, Cashman recalled the free-agent conversations he once had with George Steinbrenner, telling The Boss, “You can’t have 'em all.”

But in this instance, it wasn’t that the Yankees couldn’t have Machado. They chose not to -- same with Harper -- in spreading their money around the roster for 2019. And Hal, like his dad, did open the checkbook repeatedly, investing roughly $145 million this offseason to push this season’s Opening Day payroll to approximately $225 million.

The Red Sox wound up spending $235 million -- the most in the sport -- to win last year’s World Series, so if you want to say Steinbrenner is being slightly more frugal by comparison, fine. But there are some other factors to consider, and when it comes to expensive long-term contracts, the Yankees would rather look ahead with their own homegrown players instead of further weighing down the budget by adding the considerable drag of a Machado or Harper.

Cashman made last year’s trade for Giancarlo Stanton, in part, because he believed he was getting a relative bargain, thanks to Derek Jeter’s fire sale. But Stanton still is a major payroll-clogger, with the potential to be anchored in the Bronx through 2027 and the Yankees on the hook for $265 million. The idea of another decade-long deal, at $30 million annually, doesn’t sound so great, especially with Cashman trying to figure out what he’s going to eventually be paying young stars such as Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, just to name the current batch.

The Yankees took a proactive approach with Luis Severino, buying out all his arbitration years with the four-year, $40 million contract he signed earlier this month. They could try to do that with the next round of players as well, and Cashman said Friday that he’ll try to broker similar deals to keeps costs manageable in the coming years. But if Judge stays on this MVP pace, his salaries will skyrocket, as will the others, so keeping this new core together obviously will be an expensive undertaking before too long.

“Every dollar affects somebody else’s dollar,” Cashman said. “Simple as that. We eventually made a decision to try to be as diversified as we can.”

One way around escalating free-agent costs is to develop your own players, and Cashman insists that no team invests more on that front than the Yankees despite being saddled by the MLB-imposed limits on international spending. He also mentioned the “impediments’ in place that curtail throwing money around -- as The Boss did back in the day -- and stressed that people don’t take into account a team’s expenses when the sport’s bulging revenues are mentioned.

Cashman also didn’t feel the need to ask Steinbrenner for more cash this offseason -- “I think our payroll is already big . . . We’re spending a ton of money,” he said -- and he’s banking on the cheaper, homegrown talent to contribute like $300-million players.

“If you have good, young stuff, it doesn’t make you have to do anything,” Cashman said. “You can continue to bet on their futures and grow with them, and we’re growing with them.”

They expect to win a World Series with them, too. That’s the plan, anyway, even minus Machado and Harper.

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