The Yankees finally gave it up. Extending Boone’s contract puts the onus for accountability where it belongs – on the players.
The Yankees’ decision to extend Aaron Boone’s contract in the wake of their recent purge of coaches may appear to be random, and therefore a sign that Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman have no clear idea of the direction they are taking the Yankees.
But with regards to Aaron Boone, their assessment has been definitive and consistent, and despite the sector of Yankees fans calling for Boone’s head for more than a year, both men know what they have, and they have never thought otherwise.
Cashman set the tone yesterday in a session with reporters when he said, “To be quite honest, if he was entering the free-agent market, I believe he’d be the No. 1 managerial candidate in baseball,” Cashman told reporters.
“There are several different vacancies, and we would be going to market looking for someone like him. I think he’s been a good hire, and he’s gonna be a continued good hire in that position.” (Full Video Below)
Brian Cashman: There is a great deal of respect for what Aaron Boone brings to the table. pic.twitter.com/P7uv61NLB9
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) October 19, 2021
Yankees: What Brian Cashman Didn’t Say
More significantly, it is what Brian Cashman didn’t say yesterday because, by inference, he is resending a message to Yankees players that reaffirms what he and Steinbrenner have said all along – it’s on you guys, not him or anyone else.
The audience, of course, is the Yankees players. All of them, and no one gets a pass (Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, Gio Urshela, et al.) because they mean the entire active roster that takes the field for the Yankees on any given day.
The stand the Yankees are taking, and I believe it’s timely and accurate, is this.
From the perspective of the Yankees brass, they feel that with the second-highest payroll in baseball, together with the perks the players enjoy as members of a first-class organization – the party is over, and we demand that 28th World Title, and more.
When you consider the Yankees paid Gerrit Cole $1,161,290 for each of his thirty-one starts (including the Wild Card Game), Gary Sanchez $14,431 for each of his 440 plate appearances this year, and DJ LeMahieu $22,900 for each of his 655 plate appearance, their point jumps off the page.
The numbers become even more staggering when you place LeMahieu’s $22,900 (as an example) alongside the United States poverty line of $26,500 to support a family of four in 2021.
Yankees: We’re Not Gonna Take It Anymore
The Yankees are more than aware of the success of their intradivision rival Tampa Bay Rays and what they accomplished with a team payroll of $71 million, or two times what the Yankees paid Cole this season for their entire team.
Effectuating the change in thinking and strategy is not likely to take its proper form this year, but the hidden message puts all Yankees players on notice to perform at a higher level, or you’re out of here.
Nevertheless, we may see the Yankees play hardball with some of the players eligible for arbitration in 2022, a partial list that includes:
- INF/OF Miguel Andújar: $1.7 million.
- OF Clint Frazier: $2.4 million.
- OF Joey Gallo: $10.2 million.
- P Domingo German: $2.1 million.
- P Chad Green: $4.1 million.
- C Kyle Higashioka: $1.3 million.
- P Clay Holmes: $1 million.
- OF Aaron Judge: $17.1 million.
In the past, the Yankees have treated arbitration as an automatic raise, and the only question is the extent of the raise.
This is how, for example, Gary Sanchez was gifted $1,350,000 by the Yankees last year, against a season in which he batted .147 with a .618 OPS in 2020.
Clearing The Deck With A Few
There’s also a smaller number of Yankees’ players who may have seen their last days wearing the pinstripes.
Short of signing a free-agent starting pitcher, the Yankees will be marketing a select few to engage teams via the trade route.
The Future Of Brian Cashman
With one year remaining on his contract with the Yankees, Brian Cashman has tied his sails to Aaron Boone.
If a change is to be made at the GM level, Steinbrenner will let Cashman down easy, perhaps with a promotion upstairs with a fancy title and a bigger office. Still, the only certainty is that Hal Steinbrenner will never fire Cashman.
As a “free agent” following a career as the longest-tenured GM in Yankees’ history, Cashman retains the opportunity to resign into retirement, or hook on with another team, seeing new opportunities and challenges.
Did anyone say New York Mets?
Cashman was divorced from his wife of seventeen years in 2012. They had two children, neither of whom now require parental raising.
Thus, the opportunity for a Cashman to pursue a change of scenery offers another alternative, and it is worth noting that he grew up as a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Seemingly, that door is shut, but a move to the West Coast, perhaps with the Angels, Padres, or even the Diamondbacks, is not.
The Last Hurrah
If Cashman does part ways with the Yankees next year, he’ll indeed be looking at 2022 as the last hurrah, similar to George Steinbrenner’s all-out effort to win the World Series in 2009, just months before his death the following June.
The “reawakening” of Cashman, who has been attacked as stale and disinterested, is something Yankees fans will relish.
What form and the extent of that aggressiveness takes is an open question.
Surely, though, Cashman will be in no mood for lack of effort, and in some cases, he will even take action on Yankees players who make an effort, but the productivity isn’t there.
Judging by the extension Cashman has granted Boone, the depth of disappointment and frustration with the Yankees’ inability to even make a World Series appearance for thirteen years has now stretched beyond the team’s fan base and into the hierarchy of the Yankees.
So, unless I’m misreading yesterday’s events, get ready for the “New” New York Yankees because a culture change is in the wind for 2022, and if there are players who still have a locker in the clubhouse, I’d advise them not to get too comfortable.