The Yankees’ silence at the trading deadline was arguably baseball’s most impactful story this summer, if only because it represented a change in the way the Bombers are doing business. After years of boldly building up the farm system, and then overhauling the franchise on the fly in 2016, general manager Brian Cashman took on a different posture last week: he looked downright scared to gamble on a deal.
Of course he would say otherwise. What outraged fans called fear, he called discipline. Refusing to panic, Cashman insisted, is how the Yankees became the industry’s most admired decision-makers. They were the model of efficiency, and Cashman intended to keep it that way despite being skewered by the tabloids.
The day after the Yankees failed to upgrade their starting rotation, watching in frustration as the Astros snared Zack Greinke from the Diamondbacks, the New York Post taunted Cashman with a headline that read: The Walking Deadline. Cashman was depicted as a zombie straight out of the popular AMC television series.
It was a poignant reminder that even a general manager who hasn’t had a losing season in 20 years can’t count on an infinite reservoir of good will from the public. Cashman read the papers and listened to the mutiny on talk radio. Yet he refused to concede the Yankees were in trouble.
There were three reasons why: Luis Severino. Dellin Betances. Deivi García.
None of the three right-handers has made an imprint on the Yankees in 2019: Severino and Betances have both been on the injured list since spring training. And García, only 20, is just now beginning his climb up the Yankees’ organization depth chart, currently at Class AAA.
But each one offers a specific dividend that Cashman believes will rescue the Yankees down the stretch. Severino, who’s scheduled to be activated within 2-3 weeks, will become the ace Cashman was unable to find at the deadline. Betances will be the eighth-inning bridge to closer Aroldis Chapman. And García will arrive in September, if not sooner, to allow the other Yankees’ starters to occasionally skip a turn in the rotation as they prepare for the post-season.
“We have assets on the way,” Cashman said recently, convinced that’s all the Yankees will need. Trevor Bauer or Madison Bumgarner or Marcus Stroman would’ve obviously been welcome in the Bronx. But Cashman refused to overpay for any of them, specifically because he had visions of Severino’s monster 98-mph fastball, Betances’ Frisbee-like curveball and the disconnect hitter experience when Garcia lets loose: a skinny, under-sized 5-9 kid churning out elite four-seamers.
Cashman isn’t the only one who values García’s future. Among the many teams that tried to tempt the Yankees at the deadline were the Mets, who were ready to flip Stroman to the Bronx only two days after he’d been traded from Toronto.
The cost of a potential second swap was exorbitant, though: for Stroman to become a Yankee Cashman would’ve had to give up Garcia and Estevan Florial. That’s where the negotiations would begin. There would be other Yankees prospects involved but the pre-requisite was that both blue-chippers would be included. García and Florial. Not one or the other. Both.
Cashman said thanks but no thanks and promptly cut off any further dialogue with his counterpart Brodie Van Wagenen. It was an outrageous request in the Yankees’ minds but hardly surprising. Everyone, it seemed, was looking for a way to pry Garcia loose.
But one Yankees insider said the barrage only steeled Cashman’s reserve to hold onto his young righty.
“The more Cash listened to the offers on Deivi, the more convinced he was that the kid wasn’t going anywhere,” said the Yankees’ source. That’s one reason why Cashman looked so composed after the deadline had passed. There was no sense of anger or disappointment. If Cashman was worried about the back page of the Post. he wasn’t showing it.
Instead he matter-of-factly said, “we were never close” on any deal. And that was that. The club will now turn its attention to the Big Three. Severino’s and Betances’ shoulder issues are in the final stages of being resolved, which means the only remaining question is whether García will arrive before or after Sept. 1. The answer will determine whether the rookie will be eligible for post-season play.
Either way, García will bring with him an impressive strikeout ratio in the minor leagues: 138 K’s in 90.1 innings as of this week. He has a clean, athletic delivery that evaluators believe will protect his arm in years to come. However, there are two factors working against Garcia.
He was only recently promoted to Class-AAA in July and it would be a long shot to think the Yankees would subject him to major league hitters less than a month later. Garcia’s workload is also on the Yankees’ minds. His previous full-season high was 74 innings last year; he’s already well past that threshold.
Whenever García arrives, it won’t be long before he’s shut down until 2020. It remains to be seen in what capacity the Yankees deploy the rookie. But he’s on the way as Cashman keeps his fingers tightly crossed.
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