After two days of internal discussions among front-office executives, the Yankees swallowed hard Friday and decided to offer Phil Hughes to the Twins as part of the trade package they hope will land them Johan Santana.
“We’re going for it,” was the way one club source put it.
According to the club source, there was spirited internal debate in the organization via conference calls about whether to make Hughes available.
Among the prominent people on the calls were GM Brian Cashman in New York, and owner Hank Steinbrenner and superscout Gene Michael in Tampa. Though the club source wouldn’t say who needed to be convinced, it is no secret that Cashman has wanted to build the team around young, homegrown players, and saw the three pitchers as the centerpiece.
In any case, the club finally agreed to put Hughes in a package that includes center fielder Melky Cabrera and at least one other lesser pitching prospect still to be negotiated, as of Friday night. And by doing so they believe they are the front-runners to land Santana, the two-time Cy Young winner.
April 1, 1982: The Yankees traded Gene Nelson with a player to be named later (Bobby Brown) and Bill Caudill to the Seattle Mariners for Shane Rawley.
December 5, 1984: The Yankees traded Jose Rijo with Tim Birtsas, Jay Howell, Stan Javier, and Eric Plunk to the Oakland Athletics for Rickey Henderson, Bert Bradley, and cash.
April 30, 1989: The Yankees traded Al Leiter to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jesse Barfield.
I can’t think of any other recent cases where the Yankees had a pitcher at the big league level, age 22 or younger, who was “home grown” and then traded away before (or darn near) his 23rd birthday.
Nelson, Rijo, Leiter…and, now, Hughes?
Well, for sure, you don’t see this everyday.
Update, 11/30/07, 11:33 pm EST: I stand corrected on Gene Nelson. The Yankees picked him up in a trade with the Rangers – while he was in the minors. Mea culpa. Nelson was not “home grown.”
So, this makes it just Rijo, Leiter…and, now, Hughes?
Just three cases in, what I would guess is, the last half-century of Yankees baseball.