If there’s one thing that’s held true during Brian Cashman’s tenure in recent years, it’s that he’s very willing to practice patience. He’s waited out both the free agent (Hiroki Kuroda, for example) and trade (Bobby Abreu) markets to get better than advertised prices, and for the most part it’s worked out wonderfully. As he indicated to reporters yesterday, patience is again his primary tactic this offseason.
“The preference is always to get your problems solved and get them fixed,” said Cashman. “But the realistic side of that is that it’s going to take time and you have to solve it over time. If you don’t feel comfortable with the solution, you shouldn’t solve it until you feel comfortable. I’m prepared to drag this thing out.”
Patience was a fine approach these last few years but times have obviously changed. The market is flush with cash thanks to the new television deals and the inability to funnel money into the draft and international markets, so Major League free agents are getting paid handsomely. As the Yankees preach patience, the players they want are no longer falling into their laps. Eric Chavez won’t be there to sign in February because he took a $3M deal from the Diamondbacks, more money than New York paid him in the previous two years combined. Jeff Keppinger, another one of the team’s targets, actually took less money to sign with the White Sox for whatever reason.
“I think that we’ll be in a position, I would think, to leave here with doing something,” added Cashman. “But that doesn’t mean we will. I want to come here every time I go to the Winter Meetings, I want to get something done. I’ve been disappointed many times leaving, but that’s not going to make me do something.”
The Yankees are scaling back their spending as the price of talent is going up, and that’s a very bad thing. They don’t have the internal pieces to plug their various position player holes — a major black mark on Cashman & Co. given his constant preaching of building through the farm system — meaning they are at the mercy of the free agent market. Maybe the patient approach will work and some new targets will surface in the coming weeks, but right now it’s tough to see how the Yankees will go into next season with something other than a significant downgrade on the offensive side of the ball. After enjoying the benefits of patience, this new market might be the one that leaves Cashman empty-handed at the end of the winter.