While the Yankees sit at home, we are being treated to a thrilling postseason full of intrigue and upsets — culminating in what has so far been a tightly-contested World Series. The Rangers pulled to within one win of their first World Series title in franchise history with a comprehensive victory over the Diamondbacks in Arizona last night. It’s another late-autumn on the sidelines for New York, and there is no one they can thank more for that fate than general manager Brian Cashman.
Before we look ahead to the offseason, let’s take one final look back at the season and how Cashman’s approval rating mirrored the results of the team he constructed. Despite initial optimism over an offseason that saw them retain Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo, bring in Carlos Rodón, and hand Anthony Volpe the starting shortstop job — vaulting Cashman’s approval to 47 percent on Opening Day — stagnant play dropped the Yankees to last place and Cashman’s approval to 6 percent in April, 29 percent in May, 10 percent in June and just 3 percent in July.
Aaron Judge returned from his toe injury but it was not enough to prop up a failing roster nor indeed the season. The brain trust chose to do nothing at the trade deadline, and that combined with the continued bad play ensured Cashman’s approval remained in the single digits, checking in at 7 percent for August. With the team firmly out of the playoff picture, management decided to give the youngsters some exposure at the major league level, handing Jasson Domínguez, Austin Wells, and Everson Pereira their MLB debuts while also calling up Oswald Peraza and Estevan Florial to start. Perhaps this injection of youthful exuberance (or perhaps freed from the shackles of expectation and pressure) led to a final flurry that saw the team go 16-10 in September, avoiding their first losing season and last place finish in 30 years and also bumping Cashman’s approval to its highest in three months, clocking in at a whopping 8 percent.
It’s been a quiet period in the Bronx in the intervening month. So far the only developments in Yankeeland since the end of their season has seen principal owner Hal Steinbrenner promise fans an external audit of the team’s processes... only to reveal shortly after that said audit will not in fact be happening. Sean Casey may not be returning as hitting coach, but it certainly appears that both Cashman’s and Aaron Boone’s jobs are safe.
While it’s not unexpected for non-playoff teams to maintain a low profile while the postseason is in progress, a little more assurance that changes will be made would be welcome. As it stands, the Yankees figure to enter the 2024 season in even worse shape than the season they just completed. In addition to still not rostering an everyday left fielder and third baseman, they now are down a center fielder on Opening Day with Domínguez expected to miss the start of the season as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. Behind Gerrit Cole in the rotation, Carlos Rodón is already a conundrum just one year into his six-year mega-pact, no one know what to expect from Nestor Cortes following his season-ending shoulder injury, Luis Severino and Frankie Montas are free agents, and Michael King and Clarke Schmidt are still relatively unproven. Entering the season with a third of your offense and as much as 80 percent of your rotation up in the air is no recipe for success.
Judge and Cole will continue to lead the team but are each a further year into their thirties. Far more concerning is the trio of Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo now firmly on the downslope of their careers. Running it back with that troika again expected to make up the foundation of the team’s offense amounts to diagnosable insanity. Needless to say the Yankees require outside reinforcements if they intend on returning to contention.
The rumor currently dominating the headlines concerns Juan Soto’s availability and the likelihood the Padres make him available for trade this winter. As bad as things went for the Yankees, San Diego are strong contenders for the most disappointing season out of all 30 MLB clubs given the sky-high anticipation and expectations surrounding the team at the beginning of the season. With an offense boasting the likes of Soto, Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Xander Bogaerts and a rotation headed by Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove, a deep playoff run felt like a bare minimum for a team clearly in win-now mode (as evidenced by the substantial package of prospects the Padres ceded to Washington to land Soto at the 2022 MLB trade deadline).
Six months later and, like the Yankees, the Padres are on the outside looking in having also finished the season with an 82-80 record. This prompted owner Peter Seidler to prioritize paring down what was a franchise-record $243 million payroll, though not at the expense of contending next season. Soto is projected to earn a record $33 million in his final year of arbitration, and given his profile as a lefty slugger who walks more than he strikes out, rumors immediately linked the Yankees to the 25-year-old superstar. That is, until we learned that the two teams have yet to make contact on a prospective trade.
Returning to the World Series for a moment before we get to the poll, there are certainly lessons Cashman can learn from both the Rangers and Diamondbacks. The Rangers went from a 102-loss team to playing in the World Series in two years thanks largely to the more than $500 million they invested in Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Jacob deGrom (yes, he’s hurt, but the process that led to his signing was still solid), Nathan Eovaldi and others. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks managed to not only maintain but grow the skillset of their uber-prospect Corbin Carroll (compared to the case of, say, Anthony Volpe) once he established in the majors while also seizing on an opportunity to deal from strength, netting a pair of offensive contributors in Gabriel Moreno and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. by trading Daulton Varsho to the Blue Jays. In other words, both teams behaving like clubs with true World Series aspirations.
So that brings us to today’s task. Do you approve of the job Brian Cashman has done through the end of October? The polarizing GM certainly elicits stronger feelings than can be captured in a one-word response — you may feel a question such as the one being posed requires more nuance, greater elaboration, or a wider selection of options than just a “yes” or a “no,” however for the sake of this exercise, a binary question works best.
Please vote in the poll below and let us know! We’ll revisit the results in a month.
Do you approve of Yankees GM Brian Cashman?
This poll is closed