The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Brian Cashman’s 5 Year Trade History

As we continue to have no transactions to analyze this offseason, let’s take a look back at some of the trades made over the past five calendar years. Has Brian Cashman and his staff done a good job at evaluating talent outside of the organization? Have the Yankees ever been fleeced or been clear cut winners? Obviously, he wouldn’t still be here if he was consistently the loser in trades, but let’s judge for ourselves.

A bust?

I’ve included 20 trades since 2007, not including any trades that I considered insignificant in nature (under my discretion), such as those where players simply purchased (i.e. Steve Pearce).Here are swaps in reverse chronological order:

07/31/2012: Chad Qualls for Casey McGehee (Pittsburgh)

  • An unsuccessful trade, but neither team really got what they needed. Qualls was a dud for Pittsburgh (as he was with the Yankees in limited time), and McGehee failed to give the Yankees a good right-handed bat. Here‘s our review at the time of the trade. Verdict: Not good, but not bad

07/23/2012: D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar for Ichiro (Seattle)

  • Ichiro netted .8 WAR in 67 games with the Yanks after the trade, and was obtained for two inconsequential pieces. He’ll be here for two more years in pinstripes. Although I’m no fan of his extension, I can’t complain about the trade. Here‘s our opinion when Ichiro was acquired. Verdict: Good trade

04/04/2012: George Kontos for Chris Stewart (San Francisco)

  • The Yankees have an obsession with Stewart – he’s been in the organization four separate times since 2008. I understand that it isn’t terribly difficult to cultivate relievers, but Kontos was very successful in his first full year with San Francisco: 2.47 ERA, 9.07 K/9, 2.47 BB/9. Regardless of his success, Kontos isn’t really projected to be anything more than middle relief. Stewart has a very good defensive reputation and the staff likes throwing to him. As a backup, he’s good – we’ll see what happens in extended time in 2013. Verdict: Not good, not bad trade
02/19/2012: A.J. Burnett for Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones (Pittsburgh)
  • Of course Burnett went on to post a 3.4 WAR season after the trade (3.51 ERA and 3.40 xFIP), but things clearly weren’t working out in New York. It’s no surprise he pitched better out of the AL East. Moreno and Cayones are minor leaguers and have been banged up, but Moreno has a chance to crack the majors as a reliever considering is strong K rates. Verdict: Fair trade

01/23/2012: Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos(Seattle)

  • Pinstripe Pundits wasn’t around at this time, but I wasn’t thrilled about the trade, and it only got worse as 2013 progressed. Pineda and Campos suffered shoulder and elbow injuries respectively. Campos is supposedly healthy and ready to start 2013 in Charleston, so he’s still a ways away from major league action. Could Pineda have been a lemon? Montero may be without a position, and was about replacement level in 2012, but maybe the fences moving in at Safeco for 2013 will help (107 road wRC+ and 74 home wRC+ in 2012). Now, Montero is the cost controlled right-handed bat the Yankees could really use. Verdict: Bad trade

03/25/2011: Sergio Mitre for Chris Dickerson (Milwaukee)

  • I actually think Dickerson could be a pretty useful 4th outfielder, which he may be on this year’s roster. The lefty swinger hits righties a tad above average for his career, and is a good defensive player. Mitre simply was no longer of use for the Yanks. Verdict: Good trade

02/11/2011: Adam Olbrychowski for Justin Maxwell (Washington)

  • This potentially could have been a really good trade for the Yanks had they been able to retain Maxwell after last season’s spring trainings. However, with Andruw Jones on the roster, there was no space for the out-of-options Maxwell. Justin put up a two-win season with Houston in 2012 and clobbered lefties (144 wRC+). Obviously, had Cashman known Jones would have been so bad in 2012 beforehand, Maxwell may still be here. Can’t blame him though considering the option situation. Verdict: Not good, not bad

07/31/2010: Andrew Shive and Matt Cusick for Kerry Wood (Cleveland)

  • Shive and Cusick haven’t amounted to anything, and Wood was an excellent contributor (0.69 ERA) to the bullpen in the second half of 2010. Kicking in cash to Cleveland helped get the deal done, but Cashman didn’t give up anything significant for Wood. Verdict: Good trade

07/31/2010: Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes for Lance Berkman (Houston)

  • Melancon has bounced from Boston to Pittsburgh since this trade to Houston, but still has shown potential to be an effective reliever. In 2011 with Houston, he notched 20 saves with a 2.78 ERA and 3.14 xFIP, but struggled with Boston in 2012. Paredes hasn’t done zilch for Houston in his time with the big club. Berkman didn’t give the Yanks what they needed (91 wRC+), but considering the pieces dealt, it’s not that big of a deal. Some may say Cashman isn’t the greatest evaluator of relievers (this and the Kontos trade), but then again, relievers are pretty fungible. Verdict: Not good, not bad

07/30/2010: Zach McAllister for Austin Kearns (Cleveland)

  • McAllister was pretty decent for Cleveland in 22 starts last season, amounting 1.3 WAR and a 4.24 ERA. Kearns wasn’t very good for the Yankees in his short stint (89 wRC+), but McAllister never really had a future in New York anyway. Verdict: Not good, not bad

12/22/2009: Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn, Arodys Vizcaino for Boone Logan and Javier Vazquez (Atlanta)

  • Melky was terrible for Atlanta (-1.1 WAR) and was dealt immediately to Kansas City (and then San Francisco a season later). In those two seasons since, he’s netted 8.8 WAR, 118 and 148 wRC+ each year, and of course a PED suspension. Now with Toronto, the Yanks will be seeing plenty of him. He was a below average hitter with the Yanks and had questionable work ethic, so what’s happened the past two seasons was unforeseen. Dunn has become a good LOOGY (.305 wOBA against LHB), and Vizcaino had Tommy John surgery last year. Logan has been relatively effective with the Yanks, while Vazquez had a rough 2010 in pinstripes (5.32 ERA, 4.69 xFIP). It’s not the worst deal ever made, but Vizcaino still has upside (albeit as a reliever most likely), Dunn and Logan are practically a wash, and perhaps the Yanks missed something on Melky. Verdict: Bad trade

07/31/2009: Chase Weems for Jerry Hairston (Cincinnati)

  • Weems wasn’t the type of guy that you trade and you lose sleep over, so it’s not like this was a tough deal to make. Still, though, Hairston was a useful utility man in the ’09 championship run. Verdict: Good trade

06/30/2009: Casey Erickson and Eric Fryer for Eric Hinske (Pittsburgh)

  • Same as above: not a difficult trade to make. Erickson and Fryer are really nothing, while Hinske delivered 7 homers in 98 PAs (107 wRC+) with the Yanks in their World Series run. Verdict: Good trade

12/08/2009: Austin Jackson (to DET), Ian Kennedy (to ARI), Phil Coke (to DET) for Curtis Granderson. (3-team deal with other moving pieces)

  • This website wasn’t around at the time of this, but I didn’t love the trade when it happened. Since 2010, Granderson has compiled 13.2 WAR compared to 12.4 from Jackson. Kennedy and Coke have amounted 10.6 and 3.8 respectively. The Yankees are behind 13.6 wins since the deal. Considering that these three still are under team control, this one doesn’t look very good long-term especially considering the austerity budget. However, at the time of the deal, the new CBA wasn’t in place so the ramifications were not fully known. Granderson’s contract has been very reasonable, but Jackson, Kennedy, and Coke still have a combined 8 controlled seasons remaining (17 at time of trade). Verdict: Bad trade

11/13/2008: Wilson Betemeit, Jeff Marquez, Jhonny Nunez for Nick Swisher and Kanekoa Texeira (Chicago White Sox)

  • This was undeniably Cashman’s finest trade. Swish struggled in Chicago, and the Yanks bought low. Since the deal, Swisher has added 15 wins, while Betemit has only accumulated 2. Swish also had an equal WAR as a pitcher vs. Marquez and Nunez (0). OK, I know it was just one fluke of an inning, but still funny and goes to show that Nunez and Marquez are nothing. Verdict: Excellent trade

07/30/2008: Kyle Farnsworth for Ivan Rodriguez (Detroit)

  • With Jorge Posada banged up, Cashman brought in Pudge to fill the void. Washed up by then, Rodriguez did nothing in 33 games (48 wRC+). Farnsworth had a rough transition to Detroit – with the Yankees, he stranded an unsustainable 94% of baserunners, and regressed to the mean quickly with the Tigers. Verdict: Not good, not bad

07/26/2008: Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Daniel McCutchen and Jeff Karstens for Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady (Pittsburgh)

  • The X man didn’t do all that much with the Yanks (couldn’t stay healthy which cost his job to Swisher). Marte also couldn’t stay on the field, but when healthy, he was as dominant of a LOOGY as there was in baseball. He also had Chase Utley‘s and Ryan Howard‘s number in the World Series. Meanwhile, none of the four guys sent to Pittsburgh have not become much, but have had some decent contributions. Tabata was the highest profile player/prospect in the deal, but was probably overhyped by the Yankee machine. Verdict: Fair trade

07/21/2007: Jeff Kennard for Jose Molina (Anaheim)

  • Molina can’t hit, but was the best backup catcher the Yankees have had in recent memory. Plus, Cashman gave up next to nothing. Verdict: Good trade

07/31/2007: Scott Proctor for Wilson Betemit (Los Angeles)

  • Betemit once was a pretty good prospect with Atlanta, but never panned out. The Yanks essentially took a flyer on him and he was awful: 79 wRC+ in 92 PAs in 2007, 86 wRC+ in 198 PAs in 2008. Betemit, as discussed, was part of the package that acquired Swisher. I’m not going to judge this deal on subsequent events, however. Verdict: Not good, not bad

01/09/2007: Randy Johnson for Alberto Gonzalez, Steven Jackson, Ross Ohlendorf, and Luis Vizcaino (Arizona)

  • This deal was somewhat akin to the Burnett deal: The Big Unit failed to meet expectations season two of his Yankee career (5 ERA, 4.27 xFIP). He actually was pretty good in his first year (3.79 ERA, 3.43 xFIP), but fans basically expected the 10 win season he put up the year prior to coming to the Bronx. Ohlendorf later became part of the Nady/Marte trade, Gonzalez and Jackson were minor league fillers, and Vizcaino was a serviceable reliever in the ’07 bullpen. Verdict: Not good, not bad
Final tally:
  • Excellent: 1 trade
  • Good: 6 trades
  • Fair: 2 trades
  • Not good, not bad: 8 trades
  • Bad: 3 trades
  • Terrible: 0 trades
So Cashman has essentially come out on top 7 times, while losing out thrice. 10 other deals were pretty much right down the middle or had relatively little impact, which is probably expected. Obviously, others might interpret the trades differently, but they’d probably all agree that Cashman has been successful in his dealings more often than not.

No trade backs!

Despite 3 bad deals (2 for some who consider the Granderson trade fair), Cashman didn’t get fleeced in any of them. Aside from the Pineda swap, he’s gotten some semblance of value out of these deals. On the subject of the Seattle trade, some may say the trade cannot be judged yet considering it’s year one. What’s the fun in that? If the Yankees traded Joe Schmo for Felix Hernandez, nobody would say we have to wait and see before judging. People are always judging winners and losers right at the consummation of a trade.

Of the bad deals, the only one I’d really like to have back is the three-team deal with Arizona and Detroit. Yes, hindsight is 20/20 as they are with all of these reviews, but considering the cheap (and productive) players they lost for a guy who’s become all-or-nothing, it’s probably the worst of the bunch.

We’ll update this post as more trades are completed in the future, linking to our relevant articles critiquing the deals.

Pineda photo by Keith Allison [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Granderson photo by Keith Allison [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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8 Responses to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Brian Cashman’s 5 Year Trade History

  1. Anonymous says:

    Whether Burnett had a place or not in New York, that was an awful trade. a .261 career minor league hitter with 2 home runs and a 24 year old A-ball pitcher is all they got. Even for an innings eater, like you are classifying him as, its not enough.

    • Anonymous says:

      They simply needed someone to take some of his contract off of their hands – you cannot really say that they did poorly with their haul since that was not the point. It’s like Seattle complaining that they got nothing for Ichiro – what would they expect to get?

    • Derek Albin says:

      The reason I said it’s fair is because both teams got what they wanted. Yanks wanted some salary relief for AJ and to get him off the club. Pittsburgh was looking for an “established” pitcher, and he thrived in 2012.

  2. JohnHD says:

    Looking back, I wonder whether it was worth signing Tex, Burnett and Sabathia for the ring. I loved that magical season but Burnett and Tex aren’t that magical then after. However, I generally find myself unable to fault Cashman for decisions that were not imposed onto him by the management.

  3. Nobody says:

    I dont think Dickerson will be a useful 4th outfielder this year considering he is released….

  4. RobA says:

    The problemnwith this analysis is while I might agree with your tally of wins vs losses, you dont place any weightings on them. Cash may have won more trades then he lost but the ones he lost hurt a lot more then the ones he won have helped.

    IMO the two big losers (Monter/Pineda and the Grandy trade) have set the team back far more hen the winning trades have advanced them. In reality, this whole 2014 budget thing is probably a non issue without those trades. They would have enough young, cheap talent in Kennedy, Jackson and Montero to be under $189 and stilll probabpy have a championship team.

    Now, however, 2014 will almost certainly have the Yanks as a below average MLB team (assuming they stick to the plan of course) and 2013 is looking really shaky too, with Cash being forced to stock the team with old, broken down stars of yesterday.

    • Derek says:

      That’s definitely fair about the weightings, Rob.

      While the Granderson trade was certainly a setback long-term, we also must consider the CBA implications at the time. The Yanks acquired Granderson after the ’09 season, two years before the CBA was agreed upon with all the new rules. Had they known about things like losing the revenue sharing rebate for being over the tax threshold too frequently, it’s very possible they don’t make that deal.

      I don’t think the Pineda-Montero swap is quite as bad as the Granderson deal just because the Yankees still have affordable control of Pineda for a few years. It’s just a matter of whether or not he’ll ever be able to pitch effectively.

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