On the day CC Sabathia signed his contract extension, Brian Cashman got on a conference call and promised a conservative winter. He said he had achieved his No. 1 objective. He felt no sense of desperation. He could approach the winter with patience and conviction.
Three and half months later, Cashman has traded away Jesus Montero and A.J. Burnett — two players who seemed all but untradeable (for very different reasons). He’s also signed Freddy Garcia, Hiroki Kuroda and Andruw Jones — three players in their mid-to-late 30s added to a roster that already has its share of aging veterans (and two more older players might be on their way).
It’s an odd brand of conservativism, and certainly not everyone agrees with the approach — where’s the big free agent splash?!! — but the consensus seems to be that the Yankees have improved their roster. The bullpen needed little work, and the rotation is clearly deeper. All of last year’s lineup is back with the exception of Jorge Posada, who underperformed so drastically that the Yankees will try to replace his numbers with a rotating cast of designated hitters and bench players.
The Yankees have traded youth for youth, admitted a tough-to-swallow mistake, and avoided long-term risk with high-risk players. This is what a conservative winter looks like in Yankees universe. Cashman patience has left the Yankees with a roster that’s still incomplete just one day before pitchers and catchers report to camp, but at this point, the blueprint is pretty clear.
We’re still a long way from knowing whether it will work.
Associated Press photo from the Yankees minor league complex