Well, that’s what Brian Cashman said seven years ago…
Reading about how the Phillies signed Jose Contreras – and, good luck with that Philadelphia! – got me thinking back to 2002…and this AP report that ran in USA Today on X-mas Eve that year:
The New York Yankees’ need to cut payroll ends at the U.S. border. For the second time in less than a week, baseball’s biggest spender broke its budget for a big international acquisition, reaching a preliminary agreement Tuesday on a $32 million, four-year contract with Cuban defector Jose Contreras.
Last week, the Yankees agreed to a $21 million, three-year deal with outfielder Hideki Matsui, Japan’s biggest slugger. The agreement with Contreras means the Yankees will have eight starting pitchers on the roster as soon as their deal to re-sign Roger Clemens is completed.
“We couldn’t, the right word is we wouldn’t, sacrifice the opportunity to sign these talents on the basis of reducing payroll first,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.
New York had been cutting payroll, letting go of relievers Mike Stanton and Ramiro Mendoza, re-signing third baseman Robin Ventura at a pay cut and negotiating with Clemens to take far less than the $15.45 million he averaged under his last deal. Cashman has tried to trade outfielders Rondell White and Raul Mondesi, and pitcher Sterling Hitchcock.
“The mindset is still for me to reduce payroll,” Cashman said. “Obviously, when the opportunities to sign Hideki Matsui or Jose Contreras presented themselves, it was time for us to make decisions, to move now and continue to work on cutting the payroll down the line.”
Contreras, a right-hander who says he is 31, got the largest deal ever for a Cuban defector, topping the $14.5 million, four-year deal Cleveland gave pitcher Danys Baez three years ago. Contreras throws in the mid-90s, and the Yankees envision him as part of their rotation.
…We couldn’t, the right word is we wouldn’t, sacrifice the opportunity to sign these talents on the basis of reducing payroll first…
My, how times have changed in Yankeeland these days, no?
And, it’s kinda funny how many times, in the recent history of the Yankees, that we’ve heard this Cashman edict of “Reduce payroll!”
We’re hearing it now during the off-season of 2009-2010. The above AP report was from the off-season of 2002-2003. And, check out this AP report from the off-season of 2005-2006:
The Yankees let Tino Martinez go, declining their $3 million option on the first baseman. Martinez returned to New York this year and hit .241 in part-time duty with 17 home runs and 49 RBIs. He was a staple in the Yankees’ lineup from 1996-01, helping the team to four World Series championships with his clutch hitting and reliable defense. Always a fan favorite at Yankee Stadium, he was brought back to provide insurance at first base for slugger Jason Giambi, who was coming off a 2004 season wrecked by illness and injury. But Giambi, now healthy, found his stroke as the summer wore on, pushing Martinez to the bench most games. ”At this stage, I’m trying to reduce payroll,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said at the GM meetings in Indian Wells, Calif. Cashman plans to meet tonight with Arn Tellem, the agent for Hideki Matsui. The outfielder’s contract says he must be re-signed by Nov. 15 or he’ll be released
So, reducing payroll was Cashman’s plan for 2003 and 2006 – just as it is now for 2010. Seems like this is the Yankees G.M.’s mantra every three or four years? But, guess what, it never really happens, does it? And, has Cashman ever addressed the root cause issue of who’s behind the Yankees having an insane payroll that so badly needs reducing? Nah,…