Coming off a surprising 91 win season in which the Yankees won the wild card and were just one win away from the World Series, this 2018 team is poised to be even better. After bringing in the reigning National League MVP and Major League home run leader in Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees are projected to win 96 games.
With all the excitement surrounding the Bombers, it’s easy to forget that the team was “rebuilding” as recently as last year. Teams like the Astros, Pirates, and Royals all suffered extended periods of losing baseball before building their teams into contenders, and others now following in their path.
How is it that the New York Yankees have been able to build an elite major league roster and build up such an incredible farm system all while maintaining winning records without ever tanking?
The answer is simple: Brian Cashman is a wizard.
Critics often claim that the Yankees have so much money that they simply buy championships, and sure, you could look at the 2009 team with the free agent additions of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Mark Teixeira, and Nick Swisher and argue the Yankees went out a bought a championship. The current team is different, however.
Built more on guile than deep pockets, this year’s roster features a starting lineup where 7 out of 9 batters were acquired via the draft or by trade. In fact, 27 players on the 40-man roster have been acquired through the draft or by trade. That’s 67.5% of the team directly attributed to scouting and trades (i.e. Cashman).
Let’s take a look:
Players Drafted by the Yankees:
Tyler Austin, IF – 2010
Dellin Betances, RP – 2006
Greg Bird, 1B – 2011
Brett Gardner, OF – 2005
Kyle Higashioka, C – 2008
Jonathan Holder, RP – 2014
Aaron Judge, OF – 2013
Jordan Montgomery, SP -2014
Austin Romine, C – 2007
Tyler Wade, IF – 2013
Players Traded For:
Albert Abreu, RP – acquired from HOU for Brian McCann – 2016
Brandon Drury, IF – acquired from ARZ for Taylor Widener and Nick Solak – 2018
Luis Cessa, RP – acquired from DET for Justin Wilson – 2015
Clint Frazier, OF – acquired from CLE for Andrew Miller – 2016
Sonny Gray, SP – acquired from OAK for James Kaprileian, Jorge Mateo, and Dustin Fowler
Chad Green, RP – acquired from DET for Justin Wilson – 2015
Didi Gregorius, SS – acquired from AZ for Shane Greene – 2014
Ben Heller, RP – acquired from CLE for Andrew Miller – 2016
Aaron Hicks, OF – acquired from MIN for John Ryan Murphy – 2014
Tommy Kahnle, RP – acquired from CHW for Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo, Blake Rutherford, and Tyler Clippard – 2017
Billy McKinney, OF – acquired from CHC for Aroldis Chapman* – 2016
David Robertson, RP – acquired from CHW for Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo, Blake Rutherford, and Tyler Clippard – 2017
Chasen Shreve, RP – acquired from ATL for Manny Banuelos – 2015
Giancarlo Stanton, OF – acquired from MIA for Jose Devers, Jorge Guzman, and Starlin Castro** – 2017
Gleyber Torres, IF – acquired from CHC for Aroldis Chapman* – 2016
Ronald Torreyes, IF – acquired from LAA for Rob Segedin – 2016
Adam Warren, RP – acquired from CHC for Aroldis Chapman* – 2016
*Aroldis Chapman was acquired via trade with CIN for Eric Jagielo, Caleb Cotham, Rookie Davis, and Tony Renda on December 28, 2015
**Starlin Castro was acquired via trade with CHC for Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan
Players Acquired in Free Agency:
Domingo Acevedo, SP – signed as Amateur Free Agent – 2012
Miguel Andujar, IF – signed as Amateur Free Agent – 2011
Aroldis Chapman, RP – signed to 5 year deal – 2017
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF (shudder) – signed to 5 year deal – 2014
Thairo Estrada, IF – signed as Amateur Free Agent – 2012
Giovanny Gallegos, RP – signed as Amateur Free Agent – 2012
Domingo German, RP – signed as a Free Agent – 2015
Jonathan Loaisiga, RP – signed as a Free Agent – 2016
C.C. Sabathia, SP – signed as to 1 year deal – 2018
Gary Sanchez, C – signed as Amateur Free Agent – 2009
Luis Severino, SP – signed as Amateur Free Agent – 2011
Masahiro Tanaka, SP – signed to 7 year deal – 2014
Neil Walker, IF – signed as to 1 year deal – 2018
Fans and analysts alike are in awe of this Yankees team and the way it has been built.
The emergence of Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge certainly has helped spur the front office into adding additional players last season to make a deep playoff run.
However, without Cashman’s wizardry in turning prospects, middling players, and expiring contracts into major league talent and more prospects, the Yankees wouldn’t haven’t been ready to contend so soon. Even 6 of the 13 free agents on the 40-man were signed as amateurs.
Think about this: Cashman was able to turn Eric Jagielo, Caleb Cotham, Rookie Davis, and Tony Renda into Aroldis Chapman and then traded Chapman for Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, Adam Warren, and Rashad Crawford. That’s #winning. Oh, by the way, Chapman re-signed with the Yankees the following offseason.
In perhaps an even bigger win, Cashman turned Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan into Starlin Castro. He then traded Castro this past offseason, along with Jose Devers and Jorge Guzman to the Marlins for MVP Giancarlo Stanton.
For those keeping track, that’s a net trade of Eric Jagielo, Caleb Cotham, Rookie Davis, Tony Renda, Brendan Ryan, Jose Devers, and Jorge Guzman for Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, and Rashad Crawford.
The only possible gripe fans might have is the Andrew Miller trade. Miller’s contract expires at the end of this season, and of the players acquired, Frazier and Heller are on the 40-man roster, but not considered to be key contributors.
Many have speculated that with the Yankees overcrowded outfield, Frazier is a prime candidate to be traded at the deadline for whatever the Yankees may need to make another deep run. Perhaps Cashman can pull off another act of magic at the trade deadline.
Amazingly, there were questions as to whether Cashman should be re-signed after the 2014 season. Now, Cashman has been given a much deserved 5 year $25 million contract extension.
A team that was called “aging” for much of the last half-decade is suddenly filled to the brim with young talent ready to help now or be cashed in at the trade deadline for major league talent. Not only are the Yanks projected to have the 2nd best record in the AL, but they also boast the 2nd best minor league system according to Keith Law.