It’s a day of big free agent deals, although this one might be less exciting than the recent news of Justin Verlander and Trea Turner agreeing to contracts. The Yankees announced this afternoon that they will bring GM Brian Cashman back on a four-year deal running through the end of the 2026 season.
The New York Yankees today announced that the club has re-signed Brian Cashman to a four-year contract through the 2026 season to continue serving as Senior Vice President and General Manager. pic.twitter.com/IPLP31HwVc— New York Yankees (@Yankees) December 5, 2022
I can’t say I’m overly surprised. It’s been widely discussed in baseball media that Brian Cashman will be the Yankee GM until he doesn’t want to be, and as long as he remains in good standing with managing partner Hal Steinbrenner and fields competitive teams, he’ll continue to run the show. He’s been in the big chair since the 1998 season, never bringing the Yankees below .500 while having a larger impact on the direction of the franchise than all but a few people in Yankee history.
For me, it’s less interesting whether the GM changes and whether the mandate does. There’s an assumption among fans and some media members that the directive for the Yankees is to build a playoff-caliber team every year, while retaining flexibility to reset the CBT every three years. This avoids the more stringent repeater penalties, but at the same time nobody can accuse the Yankees of not fielding good teams — just whether they’re good enough.
I wonder if we’re seeing a slight shift in that thinking, given how much more visible Hal has been this winter. He’s spoken at length about how important it is to bring Aaron Judge back to the Bronx, even reportedly being more interested in a deal than Cashman himself. While the Yankees didn’t put a final bid in on Verlander, they’ve been in contact with Carlos Rodón’s camp daily, even as Verlander and Jacob deGrom steadily push expected terms for starting pitching up and up.
Now part of this may be that, with Cashman technically a free agent, Hal became the most public spokesperson for the franchise. With the move official, Steinbrenner may take some steps back and we’ll return to the usual, relatively non-committal PR strategy Cashman prefers. Still, there’s been considerable unrest among fans — including robust booing directed at Steinbrenner at both Paul O’Neill’s number retirement and Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame celebration — and the Yankees are clearly not the best team in baseball.
Running it back in 2023, and beyond, with the exact same leadership and directive will certainly mean the Yankees continue to be a cash cow, and they’re not going to be bad barring catastrophe over the next couple of seasons. Maybe Cashman is back as an extension of the status quo, and while I can’t be angry about that, I can be annoyed or apathetic about it.
But maybe there are some tweaks coming to the mission. Cashman is good at his job — even if I don’t think he’s the best in the game anymore — but the signals from ownership may indicate some changes needing to be made. Making big moves that tangibly change the projections of the 2023 squad and beyond would go a long way to kicking off this next chapter of Cashman’s career strong, and communicating to fans that some changes do need to be made, even if the boss isn’t changing.