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Opinion: The Majority of Cashman’s Off-Season Moves Paying-Off Early

A few years back, New York Yankee fans were salivating at this past off-season’s free agent class. So many superstars were hitting the market at one time like something we’ve never seen before.

Bryce Harper was to be Yankee bound for sure. No way could the Steinbrenner family pass up on their chance to realize Harper’s childhood dream and put him in pinstripes. Well, they reportedly didn’t even make an offer, and he is selling a plethora of tickets, jerseys, and leading the first-place team not too far south of New York.

The Yankees ownership was said to be focused on pitching. After all, that was the given reason on why last season’s team fell short of beating Boston, right? Well, the organization was outbid for Patrick Corbin by the Washington Nationals by a reported large margin.

If you haven’t heard, they failed to acquire All-Star third basemen, Manny Machado, too.

The story of last off-season was what didn’t the highest valued team in Major League Baseball do, not what they did. After getting underneath the luxury tax threshold for the first time since its inception, fans overall were disappointed with the results.

Well, general manager Brian Cashman and his staff did spend money and made a flurry of signings thanks to ownership’s blessing.

These moves with the exception of one or two weren’t the big sexy moves that most hoped for. To be completely transparent, the highest profile acquisition that Cashman did make hasn’t materialized into success in the early going.

However, the moves that were made were smart, calculated, and clever. The reality is they are keeping this team competitive with all the unfortunate injuries that have occurred. After all, the future Hall of Fame GM has built what is known as the best analytics department in the industry. Even the last-minute, under-the-radar deal that acquired outfielder Mike Tauchman has seen its benefits in some spots early on.

Now, let’s break down the players that were traded for, signed or re-signed that have paid early dividends for the most injured team in all of baseball.

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Brett Gardner has served as a clubhouse leader and has come up for the Yankees in big moments so far this season.. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Brett Gardner

Gardner and the Yankees quickly agreed to a one-year, $7.5 million deal after the club bought out his $12 million team option, for a cool $2 million. Most notably, Gardner hit his 100th career home run, a grand slam, to put the Yankees ahead of the Boston Red Sox this past Wednesday.

The 35-year old is slashing .200/.309/.457 with the second highest home run total (5) on the roster.

You ask why an outfielder who primarily hits lead-off who is batting .200 worth essentially $9.5 million is? Three big reasons: leadership, durability, and defense. He’s healthy, plays a great left/center field, and is one of the Yankees great clubhouse guys.

CC Sabathia has shown he still can pitch at a high level in his first two starts of the 2019 season. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

CC Sabathia

Sabathia, who is retiring at season’s end has just pitched in two games as a result of off-season heart surgery. However, he’s back on the mound and thriving.

The southpaw is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA across two starts (10 innings pitched). Batters are just hitting .121 and has an astonishing WHIP of 0.80.

The future Hall of Fame pitcher, who is just three strikeouts away from reaching 3,000 in his career, looks to be able and willing to lead a team on and off the field. The proven veteran leader is anchoring a pitching staff that has its true ‘ace’ on the injured list till July or so and two members not pitching to their potential.

DJ LeMahieu has shown to be the type of hitter the Yankees needed in their lineup while also providing versatile defense in the field. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

DJ LeMahieu

When LeMahieu inked a two-year, $24 million deal it was a shock to the industry for two reasons: Where is the defensive wizard going to fit into the lineup? And how did Cashman convince him to agree to a team favorable contract?

Fast forward a couple of months and wow, thank goodness that LeMahieu was inked to a deal.

The super-utility infielder has been the Yankees best and most consistent hitter. He has helped the organization weather the storm while their Opening Day starting first basemen, shortstop, and third basemen are all on the injured list for an extended duration of time.

Adam Ottavino has become one of the top relievers in a bullpen that is struggling to live up to the hype. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Adam Ottavino

Former top Colorado Rockies reliever Ottavino has been the best ‘ace’ of the Yankees relief corps this season. The 33-year old New York native is tied for the team lead in appearances with nine. He’s pitched to a 0.90 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and sports a .121 batting average against.

Across 10 innings, the right-hander has dominated while earning one win, save and is manager Aaron Boone’s go-to guy out of the pen’, especially with Dellin Betances hurt.

Zack Britton has not returned to his former All-Star self just yet but is still an above-average reliever. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Zack Britton

Britton who told his agent that his priority was to come back to the Yankees after becoming a free agent this winter, agreed to an unusual three-year, $39 million pact that could potentially earn the former Baltimore Orioles closer $53 million over four seasons.

Like Ottavino, the sinker-baller has appeared in nine contests and tossed 8.1 innings thus far in 2019. While Britton hasn’t yet looked like his former All-Star self, he is a well above average reliever to turn to in the late innings. Especially with Jonathan Holder struggling mightily and Betances on the IL.

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