When today’s guest post suggestion first popped into my email inbox, I remember immediately trying to come up with Brian Cashman’s most embarrassing prospect loss. Mike Lowell, maybe? That’s a bad one, but it also came more than a decade ago. Most recently, Ben’s right on the money: Cashman has traded away young players who became solid big leaguers, but no stars.
Giving away C.J. Henry for Bobby Abreu was a steal. So was landing Nick Swisher for a package built around Jeff Marquez. When the Yankees traded for Alex Rodriguez, the PTBNL was Joaquin Arias, who actually had quite a bit of prospect clout at the time. As Ed pointed out, Dioner Navarro and Brandon Claussen never developed into stars. I’ll add that neither did John-Ford Griffin, who was traded barely a year after being a first-round draft pick.
It’s hard to argue that Cashman has generally known which prospects to keep and which to trade, but to be fair, some of Cashman’s recent prospect dealing is still to be determined. Four trades that standout to me as to-be-judged-later:
July 26, 2008
Fighting to make the playoffs, Cashman made a deal with the Pirates to add outfielder Xavier Nady and left-handed reliever Damaso Marte.
The cost: Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendrof, Jeff Karstens and Dan McCutchen
There’s no chance this trade will ever be a positive for the Yankees. They missed the playoffs in 2008, Nady was hurt in 2009 and Marte has been a disappointment (aside from the ’09 playoffs). This was a bad trade for the Yankees, the only question is how bad. It hinges on Ohlendorf to some extent — he’s proven to be a solid starter, might never step to the next level — but it mostly hinges on Tabata. Always highly touted, Tabata’s stock had taken a hit when the Yankees traded him, and he bounced back with the Pirates. Tabata hit .299/.346/.400 last season. For a Yankees team light on upper-level outfielders, he’d be a nice option in 2011.
December 8, 2009
Uncertain about Austin Jackson’s ultimate upside, the Yankees worked a three-way trade to add Curtis Granderson as a short-term and long-term solution in center field.
The cost: Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Phil Coke
Whether the trade was worth it will depend on whether Granderson keeps making the strides. Whether Cashman gave up the wrong prospects will almost certainly depend on Kennedy and Jackson. There’s no question the Yankees sold low on Kennedy, who was one year removed from a brutal showing in New York, and only a few months removed from surgery. Kennedy pitched well next season, and could help in their current situation. Did the Yankees give up too soon? Jackson was a Rookie of the Year candidate, but high strikeout total and relatively low power numbers were significant reasons the Yankees were willing to lose him. There’s was never any doubt Jackson would be a solid big leaguer, the question was — and is — whether he can take the next step to become a star.
December 22, 2009
Looking to add stability to the back of the rotation, the Yankees traded for Javier Vazquez, who was coming off a career year and had always — except his one previous year in New York — been a steady source of 200-plus innings.
The cost: Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino
Short-term, the trade didn’t work especially well for either team. Dunn and Boone Logan pretty much negated one anther, while both Cabrera and Vazquez were significant disappointments. The long-term impact of this trade will depend on Vizcaino, who was considered the Yankees top lower-level pitching prospect, ranked as high as No. 3 overall in the Yankees organization by Baseball America. There’s raw talent, but Vizcaino is young enough that there’s significant risk between now and his potential big league debut. His first year with the Braves was cut short by injury, though not before he had a dominant 14-start stretch in Low A.
July 30, 2010
Needing to upgrade the bench and add some outfield depth, the Yankees made a move for fourth outfielder Austin Kearns, who was hitting .272/.354/.419 at the time in Cleveland.
The cost: Zach McAllister
Kearns was a huge asset for a brief time with the Yankees — at a time when injury meant he was a key part of the lineup — but he ultimately finished with awful numbers in New York. To get him, the Yankees gave up a starting pitcher who was having the first truly bad season of his career. McAllister had been a highly touted pitcher, one of the high points even in the Yankees deep system, but he had a 5.09 ERA in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at the time of the trade. Clearly McAllister isn’t missed right now — too many other pitchers have taken significant steps forward — but if McAllister bounces back, he could certainly be a player the Yankees regret losing.