Without a Bold Move, the Yankees Gamble on Their Own Discipline

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“There’s a lot of guys sitting in that locker room that wouldn’t be here because all of that money would’ve gone in that direction,” Cashman said.

Knowing a buyer has to overpay to fill a need, Cashman insisted the asking prices were too high for some of the pitchers the Yankees had inquired about before Wednesday’s deadline. While the market was certainly upended by under-.500 teams like the Mets and the Cincinnati Reds, who moved aggressively to obtain Marcus Stroman and Trevor Bauer, the Yankees didn’t budge on their limits.

“Maybe my counterparts felt my offers were underwhelming, and I certainly felt their offers were overwhelming,” Cashman said. He felt comfortable walking away from the offers in front of him, he said, and confident in the team he had already assembled.

Some rival teams found that the Yankees to be less aggressive than expected for a contending team with an obvious need. Several clubs inquired about outfielder Clint Frazier, who is in Class AAA, and the top prospects Deivi Garcia and Estevan Florial. But the Yankees were hesitant to move Frazier, 24, despite his defensive lapses and his past behavior that has bothered some in the organization, or Garcia, 20, who has been impressive despite doubts about his 5-foot-9 frame.

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It reflected how prospects are highly valued — perhaps sometimes overvalued — across baseball because they’re cheap and under team control for at least six major league seasons. Unless the owners and players’ union change the economic structure so that younger players are paid what they are worth, team executives are likely to continue to be tight-fisted with their prospects.

When the Cubs met the Cleveland Indians in the 2016 World Series, Cashman commended both teams’ front offices for having acted so boldly to get there. In addition to the Chapman-Torres trade that year, Cashman also shipped star reliever Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians for several prospects, including Frazier.

This season, the boldest team at the trade deadline was not the Yankees. The consensus was that title belonged to the Astros, who have rebuilt their organization, won the 2017 World Series and still managed to replenish their farm system despite trades to supplement the major league roster under General Manager Jeff Luhnow.

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