In Pittsfield, Yankees GM Cashman says team is ready to contend
Photo Gallery: Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman
PITTSFIELD -- The New York Yankees are all-in when it comes to battling for the world championship in 2014.
General manager Brian Cashman sat on the stage of the Colonial Theatre on Thursday night and told those in attendance that they were back in the title chase.
"I kept showing people this [World Series] ring and it said 2009," Cashman said. "I wish it was 2013. We intend to run out a team you're used to seeing."
Cashman spoke at the Pittsfield Suns' inaugural "Hot Stove" night, and before the program, met with reporters. Cashman said that, while trying to meet the $189 million threshold in 2012 kept luxury tax and revenue sharing payments down, the Steinbrenner family and the ownership group said that was not going to be a concern this time around.
"[The year] 2013 was a postseason-less year as you know. Ownership had decisions to make," said Cashman. "We had Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte retire. We lost Robbie Cano this winter to Seattle. We were vulnerable as we entered 2014. Did ownership want to risk two straight years of no postseason [play]?"
The money spent on four free agents adds up to exceed the $189 million payroll figure that triggers the luxury tax.
"[The owners] stated over and over again that it's a goal but not at the expense of a championship-caliber team in 2014," Cashman said. "I think the owners' spending proves that they put winning ahead of anything else."
The speculation in the press is that the Alex Rodriguez suspension, whereby the team does not have to pay the slugging third baseman for 2014, led to the successful posting and signing of Japanese right hander Masahiro Tanaka.
"We were going to be in on Tanaka regardless," Cashman said during the program at the Colonial. "We had Tanaka on our radar. If this guy was going to come over, we were going to take a serious look at him.
"We had no idea we had this real nasty storm on the horizon with Alex. Our intent is clearly to have a winning team on the field."
That wasn't the case in 2013, a year Cashman said was highlighted by the Yankees setting a team record for the most transactions in a single season.
The Yankees had a very busy offseason which started with the signing of free agents like former Red Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and ended with the tag-team situation of the Rodriguez suspension and the Tanaka signing.
Tanaka, Ellsbury, outfielder Carlos Beltran and catcher Brian McCann are the newest Yankees and all will be cashing hefty checks in the Bronx. They will try to make up for some of the production lost by the suspension of Rodriguez for this coming season.
"We felt the position player market was more the safe harbor, less risky -- not financially -- in terms of the talent compared to the pitchers other than Tanaka, who was the premier player available in the free-agent market," the Yankees GM said. "Unfortunately with us, we had needs on the pitching and position player side. We focused most of our attention on the position player market.
And for the next 12 months, the Yankees won't have to focus much attention on Rodriguez, who will sit out until spring training next year.
"It's an unfortunate circumstance. I think the decision by the arbitrator speaks for itself and how significant a circumstance it was an his involvement was," said Cashman. "We have to turn the page on that. We have to put the best team on the field, including a team that doesn't include Alex for 2014, but he'll rejoin us for 2015."
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