One the biggest surprises of the Yankees offseason was the non-tendering of The Mexican Gangster, Al Aceves. Ace eventually went on to sign a guaranteed Major League contract with the Red Sox, which of course drew the ire of some fans. It’s completely understandable, Aceves was fantastic in pinstripes (particularly in 2009) and a likable dude, so it sucks seeing him go to Boston. PeteAbe caught up with Brian Cashman yesterday, who spoke about the decision to cut Aceves and the team’s efforts to re-sign him…
“I offered him a minor league contract; that was it. I wasn’t going to do anything more than that,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said tonight.
“Because of the back issue, we could not give him [a major league contract]. He was throwing off the mound for us and he always hit a wall,” Cashman said. “So we ultimately continued to fail throughout the entire process to get him off the DL and active. He had a lot of success for a period of time, but then ultimately we’d had to take steps back and we’d have to shut him down and re-do the treatment.
“We decided to non-tender him and offer him a non-guaranteed deal. But obviously when healthy you certainly know what he can do.”
Aceves originally injured his back in Fenway Park on May 8th, and he didn’t pitch in the big leagues again. He made it to Triple-A on a rehab assignment in early-August before suffering a setback, then again made it to Triple-A on another rehab assignment a few weeks later before suffering another setback, this time a season-ender. Aceves then needed surgery after breaking his collarbone while riding his bike during the offseason, an activity that may or may not have been a) part of his rehab, or b) completely forbidden by the team/doctors given his back. As far as we know, he never had surgery to repair the bulging disc in his back despite rumors that he would.
It’s entirely possible that the Yankees screwed up here and were wrong about the health of Aceves’ back, an error that would be compounded by his defection to their biggest rival. It’s also possible – actually very likely – that the Yanks and their medical staff know him better than anyone and decided to move on. If there’s one thing I know about back injuries, it’s that they don’t just go away, especially without surgery. If Aceves is healthy though, boy wouldn’t it be nice to have him in camp as a fifth starter candidate right now?
As I’ve said before, I like Ace and wish him the best of luck, just not when he can do something to hurt the Yankees.