This seemed to be the case from the beginning, but Brian Cashman left no doubt today: The Yankees went after Jacoby Ellsbury as a direct reaction to their early concerns about re-signing Robinson Cano.
“We tried to take (Ellsbury) off the board as early as we could,” Cashman said. “Especially with the feeling of how the conversations with Robbie Cano were going. We were like, we better start moving on some things because Robbie’s not going to be here. It was clear. We’d been trying to match up with Robbie since spring training, and by all the conversations and where they were heading, we wound up regrouping. I talked to Hal and Randy and said, ‘We have to start moving now.’ To move early, you have to move up and separate yourself from the pack. That was a concerted effort to do so, and we were happy that we were able to do so. I think it would be harder on us if Robbie moved before we had, for instance, a player like Jacoby in the fold.”
Cashman confirmed the Cano’s camp made a late offer of $235 million — a tiny discount from the deal they had in hand from the Mariners — but the Yankees made it clear they had not been bluffing when they said seven years and $175 million was the highest they would go.
“There was always that uncertainty,” Cashman said. “The hunch was, after the $310 (million) request (from Cano’s camp), and then that sat for a while, then we started really drilling down early into the free agent process this winter and weren’t getting any dialogue or traction or positive momentum (from Cano). It just felt like, this wasn’t going to happen. You just don’t know. I had a conversation with Brodie in Orlando after we got in there and I think that there’s always that wonder of, are they bluffing? Are you bluffing? Both sides look at each other and think, I don’t know if they’re going to get what they’re looking for. They obviously did.
“I think there was a period of time where they thought we were going to eventually jump in and jump up to a level that we were saying every step of the way that we weren’t going to. Obviously in the end they realized, we were negotiating honestly, as we try to do every time, and directly. But I think the believability didn’t settle in until they had their offer in hand with Seattle, and they put the $235 (million) to us. And when we said no and we stuck at $175 (million), they realized, wow, they really were serious.”
Associated Press photo