Brian Cashman’s first two trades as a Yankees’ General Manager included giving up: Eric Milton and Mike Lowell in exchange, mainly, for Chuck Knoblauch and Ed Yarnall. As we continue to break down Cashman’s reign as Yankees’ GM, we will review his trade history, which started on a slippery slope, giving up players who would go on to have long and successful careers for players perhaps best remembered for what they didn’t do in the Bronx.
Milton was never an elite pitcher, but he did spend 11 years in the majors. Truth be told none of them amounted to numbers the Yankees would have had in its starting rotation from 1998 to 2009 anyway but he was still a serviceable arm. Mike Lowell as we know went on to have a very nice career most notably known for two things from a Yankees’ perspective. 1. Hitting the first home run off Joba Chamberlain and 2. Winning the 2007 World Series MVP with the hated Red Sox.
Knoblauch had some solid years with the Yankees but is mainly remembered for his own two events. 1. Arguing with the umpire in the ALCS and allowing the Indians to score a crucial run in a crucial series and 2. Forgetting, completely, how to throw the ball from second base to first base to the point where he had to move to left field towards the end of his Yankees’ tenure.
It can be argued Cashman went through growing pains, but over the years he has had rare major misses and some really nice hits.
Let’s review the highlights of Cashman’s trading career before we visit the burns tomorrow.
2003: Brandon Claussen and Charlie Manning for Aaron Boone
One of six deals that summer, this one will linger forever in Yankees’ lore. It actually wasn’t one of the best deadline deals (David Justice and others stand out as more impactful in the regular season) but Boone’s arrival to the Bronx sparked off two franchise altering moments. First, his pinch-hit home run that October ended the Red Sox hopes of winning a Game Seven in Yankees’ Stadium and reaching the World Series, instead sending the Yankees there for the fifth time in seven years. Then, Boone, after tearing his ACL in a pick up basketball game that winter, cleared the way for the Yankees to enter the trade market looking for a third baseman. This paved the way for the next deal on the list.
2004: Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias for Alex Rodriguez
People are going to have different opinions as far as whether it was ever a good thing for A-Rod to come to the Bronx. His inadequacies are part of the reason the Yankees’ collapsed in 2004, he’s been a side show since he arrived and the Yankees only won one title since he put on the pinstripes. But still, multiple MVPs, a ring, a middle of the order bat and a trade separate from his abysmal extension implies A-Rod for Soriano (Arias never amounted to much) was the right move and a franchise altering decision.
2005: Ramon Ramirez and Eduardo Sierra for Shawn Chacon
Neither Yankees’ departure amounted to anything of note while Chacon went on a magical run in New York after a mostly bad campaign in Colorado. Chacon had never posted an ERA below 4.60 before his trade and proceeded to go 7-3 with a 2.85 ERA helping New York reach the playoffs in 2005. It was shortlived for a year, but marks one of the best and one-sided deadline deals under Cashman’s watch.
2006: Matt Smith, CJ Henry and prospects for Bobby Abreu
Abreu became an on base machine and middle of the order bat for New York and even though he was afraid of walls played a decent right field. Matt Smith, fresh off a few successful major league innings, was shipped out with largely no names and CJ Henry, a busted first round pick and none of them really did much in Philadelphia.
2014: Shane Greene for Didi Gregorius
For about two months, this deal looked like it could have blown up in Cashman’s face. Greene got off to a hot start in Detroit before falling off a cliff in performance and Gregorius was struggling at the plate and in the field. By the end of the 2015 season, however, Greene looks like the after thought prospect he was in New York and Gregorius looks like the shortstop of the future for the Yankees.