There’s an invisible thread connecting all of the Yankees acquisitions in recent times. Look at the names Brian Cashman‘s acquired: Starlin Castro, Nate Eovaldi, Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius, etc. Notice anything significant?
There’s a trend in all of these guys; they are all former highly-touted prospects on other teams that didn’t necessarily “pan-out” accordingly. Besides for Castro*, who is near 1,000 hits before turning the age of 25, none of the others have experienced real Major-League success.
*Castro did have an extremely slow start to 2015, allowing the Yankees to buy low on him.
Put on Cashman’s lens for a second, and let’s see if we can pinpoint the supposed invisible thread that he does in these former top-100 prospects. We’ll start with the two older acquisitions (Didi, Evo) and continue on to the more recent ones (Hicks, Castro).
Didi Gregorius – Didi topped out at #80 on the top-100 prospect list before the 2013 season. After being traded to the Diamondbacks that season, Didi put up above-average strikeout and walk rates for the AAA and Major League teams. His 2014 Triple-A walk rate was almost higher than his strikeout rate! His fielding was always spectacular, but all this was covered up by a ghastly .226 batting average in the majors.
After being acquired by the Yanks to replace a retiring Derek Jeter, Didi batted a satisfactory .265 with nine homers to complement his outstanding defense, resulting in a 3.1 fWAR – a quality season for the 25-year old.
Nathan Eovaldi – Evo was at #96 on the top-100 prospect list after the 2011 season, for reasons none other than his electric fastball. He was traded to the Marlins in a Hanley Ramirez deal and put up an ugly 4.30 ERA by the end of 2012. The Yankees must have trusted the fact that although his statistics didn’t show it, his triple-digits fastball had the potential to be a frontline Major-League starter.
As of right now, his strikeout rate has been climbing each year since his debut in 2011. If he can learn to trust his splitter more, and use his two other average pitchers adequately, major improvements will come.
Dustin Ackley – The former second overall pick from the 2009 draft had slightly above average strikeout rates from 2012-2015. He peaked at #11 out of 100, and was expected to be the everyday leadoff hitter for the Mariners for a long, long time. Over time, he hasn’t necessarily panned out as the M’s expected, batting .244 over his career and averaging nine homers a year.
He might be able to pop 20 homers at Yankee Stadium a la Stephen Drew ’15, and possibly figure out how to break out of that Mariners funk.
Aaron Hicks – The switch-hitter from Long Beach has been at the top of the Twins prospect lists for years. Hicks culminated at #19 on Baseball America’s prospect list. A career .225 hitter, accumulating one career WAR over his three year career. From 2013-2014 he struck out at extreme rates, but a step in the right path occurred in 2015 when he struck out only 16.9% of the time.
If he keeps moving in the right direction, he may be able to exceed his “fourth-outfielder” disposition. And finally…
Stalin Castro – Yes, Castro is nearing 1,000 hits. Yes, Castro is only 25-years old. His 2015 season killed all the hype that surrounded the young phenom since his 2011 breakout season. Topped off by a clogged (which is an understatement) middle infield in Chicago, Cashman jumped on the opportunity to trade for the former All-Star.
Castro has already shown flashes of excellence throughout his young career, and his chance of rejuvenation in New York seems to be pretty good.
Brian Cashman might have come off as a bit frugal in the recent years, but he has managed to stay competitive while actively increasing future talent. That’s the key to being the General Manager of a big market club, and there is huge value in that. If you can accumulate talent while consistently maintaining a winning ball club, then you are a good GM. Cashman is doing just that, and he isn’t getting much credit for it. When Billy Beane revolutionized the way baseball thought at the turn of the millennium, he had a book written about him. Yankee fans need to realize what he’s doing; the sad truth is they might only realize once they win. It’s about time people realize that Cashman is doing a good job, and while the Yankees have only won once post-2000, he deserves credit instead of the censure he is receiving.
Spark Sports Analyst