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Yankees trade for Giancarlo Stanton: Brian Cashman cements his legacy

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While he always had a good reputation, the past four years show he is one of the best executives in the sport’s history.

Citi Hoops Classic - Kentucky v Monmouth Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

This shouldn’t be controversial to anyone who has watched the Yankees over the past two years, but Brian Cashman is one of the best executives in baseball history. That was probably something that would lead to a parade of negative comments as late as 2012 or 2013, but not now. Today, in fact, the Yankees are tying the bow on their early Christmas present — a sweetheart deal to bring Giancarlo Stanton to the Bronx. It’s remarkable, stunning, baffling, and exciting. Yet, we expect nothing less from Cashman.

At the end of the 2014 season, Cashman received a three-year extension from ownership. It was essentially one more lifeline before considering moving in a different direction. Looking on that extension proves funny because it really seemed last it would be his last contract, mostly just by looking at the depth chart at that time:

Of those, just nine even remain on the roster, and even one (Adam Warren) had to be traded and sent back again. Nonetheless, this was a roster going absolutely nowhere, one with multiple players who were old, slow, and declining. It also had little to show in prospect production other than Dellin Betances.

Then, Cashman made a series of trades that changed the course of the franchise, all leading up to this fateful decision to acquire Stanton himself. Here are the cumulative list of players sent, players received, and their subsequent WAR after said acquisition.

Brian Cashman trades, 2015-2017

Players Sent Players Sent - WAR Players Received Players Received WAR
Players Sent Players Sent - WAR Players Received Players Received WAR
Shane Greene 0 Didi Gregorius 9.3
Martin Prado 7.1 Nathan Eovaldi 3.5
David Phelps 3.3 Domingo German 0.2
John Ryan Murphy -0.6 Aaron Hicks 3.6
Brendan Ryan -0.1 Starlin Castro 3.3
Adam Warren -0.9 Adam Warren *counted twice 1.8
Justin Wilson 1.9 Chad Green 2.9
Aroldis Chapman 1.1 Luis Cessa 0.7
Andrew Miller 4.7 Gleyber Torres N/A
Ian Clarkin N/A Clint Frazier -0.4
Tyler Clippard 0.2 Todd Frazier 1.6
Blake Rutherford N/A David Robertson 1.8
Dustin Fowler N/A Tommy Kahnle 0.8
James Kaprielian N/A Sonny Gray 1
Jorge Mateo N/A
Total: 16.7 Total: 30.1

Essentially he doubled his existing money on players, turning a bucket of balls into a star shortstop, a number two starter, the best prospect in baseball, a starting center fielder, and a starting second baseman. Now he is also spinning that starting second baseman in what is yet another bizarre trade tree:

If this isn’t an argument for why this is a legendary trade, this sums it up: using only Brendan Ryan, Starlin Castro, and a prospect from a Brian McCann salary dump, Cashman got the National League MVP. The Marlins had a part to do with it—MLB approving the sale of a team to an ownership group in desperate need of cash wasn’t smart, but when history called, Cashman was the one who answered.

Of course, this timeline in the post-2013 world is an amazing one, but this is already on top of an existing backlog of excellent trades closer to the days of the Yankees dynasty:

  • Scott Wiggins for Raul Mondesi
  • Brandon Claussen and Charlie Manning for Aaron Boone
  • Wilson Betemit (and others) for Nick Swisher (and others)
  • Matt Smith, C.J. Henry, Jesus Sanchez and Carlos Monasterios for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle

...and...

  • Alfonso Soriano for Alex Rodriguez

That last one looks most like the Stanton deal, and these two will likely sit on Cashman’s mantle for the rest of his life. The A-Rod trade fundamentally changed the franchise and paved the way for a sea of money, a lucrative TV deal, a new stadium, and a World Series title. The Stanton deal, along with Aaron Judge, creates the marketing opportunity of a lifetime. Not since Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle have there been such a pair.

This leaves out the rebuild effort. Not only has he traded for the best player in the opposing league, but he got the team one game away from the World Series using homegrown talent like Luis Severino, Judge, and Sanchez. This is now the best true talent team in the league.

Predicting the next years of the franchise can be fraught. Just like we could not have predicted this scenario three years ago, three years from the future could spawn many different scenarios. Those scenarios will likely more positive than not, and judging by this current moment, the Yankees are set up better than nearly every team in the league: primed to get under the luxury tax before a great free agent class, one of the best farm systems in baseball, a bevy of young major league talent, and two of the best home run hitters in one of the best home run hitting parks. Cashman pulled off another heist, except this time it was closer to Lufthansa.