I’ve written this more times than I care to count: The moment Cliff Lee signed with Philadelphia, the Yankees offseason went down the tubes. There was one player on the market who perfectly fit the Yankees greatest offseason need, and when he went somewhere else, there was no perfect replacement. The biggest names still on the board didn’t really fit this roster, and Brian Cashman didn’t find a trade he liked.
Cashman signed Russell Martin, Pedro Feliciano and Andruw Jones to fill immediate needs, and ownership dumped closer money on Rafael Soriano. The rest of the Yankees offseason was spent on minor league deals with players well past their prime. It was a strategy that was mocked — to put it nicely — but it’s worked out so far.
“One thing to remember is that all of these players were stars,” Billy Eppler told Joel Sherman. “If you are going to do a reclamation project then do it with these types of players because if there is still something there and it comes out, you are getting all or a big part of a star.”
Eric Chavez, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia have been immediate contributors. It remains to be seen whether they can stay healthy and productive, but they’ve shown enough to suggest there’s still something left in the tank. For low-risk signings, they’ve been better than expected.
Luis Ayala was a surprise addition to the Opening Day roster, and he pitched well as a mopup man. Gustavo Molina went from a zero-chance veteran catcher to a emergency option after injury and disappointment. Mark Prior didn’t make the big league roster, but he’s been promoted to Triple-A and looks shockingly like he might be a legitimate big league option at some point.
Neal Cotts was released after his physical sent up some red flags, Ronnie Belliard was released after it became clear he didn’t have a place with the team, and it remains to be seen whether Kevin Millwood or Carlos Silva can provide anything. At this point, though, Cashman’s low-risk moves have been worthwhile, not worth mocking.
Associated Press photo