NEW YORK (WFAN) — The Yankees almost owned all the fireworks over the holiday weekend, but ultimately were left on the outside looking in at the season’s biggest trade.
Speaking to WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Monday, general manager Brian Cashman said he was in deep negotiations with the Chicago Cubs for right-handers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel right up until the point where the Oakland Athletics offered up a prospect the Yankees’ simply couldn’t match.
Then it was more like, thanks for playing.
“I don’t think (the Cubs) could’ve done a better deal than what they did in terms of that haul,” Cashman said.
Cashman told Francesa that he was in constant contact with the Cubs and that GM Theo Epstein was intrigued by a few of the Yankees’ proposals, but pretty much made it clear that if he could get blue chip shortstop prospect Addison Russell from Oakland it would mark a point of no return.
“I think we were certainly in the arena. The fact that Theo was engaging me as much as he was, I know he likes our players. I know there’s packages that had interested him for one or both combined that could have worked, but he always measured every conversation with me with ‘there’s a headliner player that if I can get, and I think I might be able to do so, it trumps every deal I could do in this game,’” Cashman said.
A’s general manager Billy Beane finally relented and handed over Russell, starting pitcher Dan Straily and outfield prospect Billy McKinny, in addition to a player to be named later.
The additions of Samardzija (3-7, 2.74 ERA, including his win for Oakland over Toronto on Sunday) and Hammel (8-5, 2.98 with Chicago) give the A’s, who already have the best record in baseball, arguably the league’s best rotation as well. Oakland also features Scott Kazmir and Sonny Gray, who have a combined 18 wins and an ERA below 3.00.
The Yankees were forced to settle on a second-tier starter, acquiring veteran right-hander Brandon McCarthy and cash from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday for young left-hander Vidal Nuno.
With Ivan Nova done for the season due to Tommy John surgery, CC Sabathia likely done for the season due to a right knee injury and Michael Pineda still struggling to return from a back injury, expect the Yankees to remain in the hunt for more starting pitching as they try to make up ground in both the AL East and wild card races.
“It’s tough,” Cashman said. “It’s definitely a seller’s market … It’s a very thin market for starting pitching right now. Hopefully we will be able to fix this as we are currently constituted and then wait and see what shakes out.”
New York entered Monday’s game at Cleveland 44-43 and 3 1/2 games behind first-place Baltimore in the division and the second wild card spot.
Cashman spoke about several other topics during his conversation with Francesa. To hear the complete interview, please click on the audio link below: