If you want to understand why Cashman traded Montero, you have to understand his grand vision. You also have to understand his constraints.
Brian Cashman has gained much greater control of the Yankees, but he still has contracts that he didn't want but must deal with. Those are the A-Rod contract and the Jeter contract. Compare those deals to the deals he cut with Andy Pettitte his last few years in Pinstripes. Pettitte got one year deals with make-good clauses. Those were the kinds of deals that other GMs have to make. Cashman, however, wants to make those deals. He wants to make them because he wants to be known as more than a GM of a big market team.
Cashman is also going to have to face a level of constraint that will greatly level the playing field: the aggressive new luxury tax in 2014. Now the A-Rod contract looks really bad. The $189mm cap ownership wants him to comply with is really a $159mm cap, once you account for the waste the A-Rod contract will be at that point. Sure, A-Rod might bounce back and hit 40 homers again. But will anyone be surprised to see him struggle? Will anyone be surprised to see him spend months on the DL? He'll turn 39 years old in the 2014 season. If he's still playing, there will have to be lots of time at DH by then.
Because of these constraints, Cashman can't afford so many AJ Burnett mistakes anymore. And pitchers are the most unpredictable investment. Wang, Pavano, Key Agawa, Kevin Brown, Javier Vasquez. Those contracts would have gotten most GMs fired. But Cashman won't have that luxury any more.
So that's the challenge. Fortunately for Yankee fans, Cashman has answers. Lots of answers.
More after the jump.
_____Cashman knows the Yankees are stacked with talent in the minors at catcher. Many are saying Sanchez is a better hitter at this stage than Montero was. Plus there is Romine, JR Murphy and Greg Bird. All look like starters, with Sanchez having a chance for real greatness. So the Yankees don't need Montero to catch. Plus, no one really thinks Montero will ever be a great defensive catcher. No one is saying that Gary Sanchez can't be a great defensive catcher, however. He has work to do but he has all the tools.
So trade Montero and a back of the rotation type (Noesi) for not one but two pitching studs, both with top of the rotation potential. One is ready now for that role and the other should be in two or three years.
Right now, the Yankees have a future rotation with six young pitchers that could be number 1s or 2s on many MLB teams: Nova (and anyone who thinks he's going to be traded is crazy), Banuelos, Betances, Pineda, Campos and oh yeah, and Phil Hughes, former 18 game winner. And that's not counting guys like Bryan Mitchell, Adam Warren, DJ Mitchell, or Jose Ramirez, all of whom could be starters who eat innings.
Will all of those guys make it? No. But enough will. Others can be traded for other low-cost pieces.
Plus, the Yankees are starting to stack up position talent. Raval Santana, Slade Heathcoat, and Mason Williams are tools guys who could be the starting outfield by 2014. They won't be, most likely. But they could be. The Yanks have serious depth at second base, too. Plus, Dante Bichette looks like the guy who will take over for A-Rod.
They need to find Jeter's replacement. And maybe that will be Cito Culver or Edwardo Nunez or Claudio Custodio. Or maybe Cashman will package some of his pitching depth or catching depth to landing an elite young shortstop. The point is, Cashman has what he never had before: a minor league system with outstanding talent that will help keep the payroll down and ensure the Yankees reload without missing a beat.