In the fourth week of July last year, while hosting Baltimore, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman reached an agreement to send Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs. It would be the first move in a partial dismantling of the club, a rebuild in New York representing one of the rarest roster-construction projects in baseball. But Cashman, and Cubs president Theo Esptein, had to wait. They had to wait for approval from Yankees ownership.
With the framework having been agreed upon, Chapman was still a Yankee as he entered a game on July 23rd against the San Francisco Giants at Yankee Stadium. He pitched the ninth and 10th innings.
“Chapman went two-plus innings, not something normally [that occurs] if you are going to execute a trade” Cashman told FanGraphs. “[Steinbrenner] waited 72 hours to green light it as he discussed it with his family. It was not an easy decision. I was keeping Theo on hold, essentially. I told him ‘I will let you know if ownership says ‘yes’.’ I said ‘I am recommending it. We’ll see what happens.’
“It’s not the first time I’ve suggested that,” Cashman said of retooling. “It’s the first time ownership actually agreed to do it.”
At the time, I didn't think this was Hal's axe to grind. Rebuilding was essential, and the Miller and Chapman deals were too enticing. The Yankees very easily could be with Andrew Miller and without Frazier, Sheffield, Torres, Warren, and others now.
I'm curious about those other times that Cashman suggested selling to rebuild. I still think it is unforgivable not to have sold off at the 2013 trade deadline. Robinson Cano and Hiroki Kuroda were both free agents and the best hitter and pitcher available at the time. The Yankees were clearly out of it. 2014-2016 may have been a lot more exciting with three or four top prospects.