Great stuff, as always, from Tyler Kepner –
History shows that the 31st overall pick is not very valuable. So why did Brian Cashman make such a big deal about it last week?
Cashman, the Yankees’ general manager, did not just imply that he would hold on to his first-round draft pick instead of signing Soriano, who was 45 for 48 in save opportunities last season. He all but planted a flag with that pronouncement atop the Landmark Building in Stamford, Conn., from which he rappelled 21 stories last month while dressed as a Christmas elf.
Yet once Soriano passes a physical, that pick will become one of nine that Tampa Bay will have before the start of the second round. While the Rays figure out how to pay for all those prospects, the Yankees will slide Soriano into their budget for three years and $35 million, in a deal that includes an opt-out clause after the first and second seasons.
Circumstances change. A week ago, the Yankees believed that Soriano’s agent, Scott Boras, wanted a four-year deal for $14 million per season. Perhaps Cashman was more optimistic then that Andy Pettitte would return and help fill the rotation, and he figured the Yankees could not absorb Soriano’s contract as well.
But Boras often starts with an exorbitant price, knowing he is willing to accept something less. And Cashman has said for weeks that Pettitte is not an option for the Yankees unless he tells the team otherwise.
Maybe Cashman simply changed his mind; he did not return phone calls Friday. But Cashman takes seriously his reputation for honesty, and at some point he must explain his reversal. The organization has run smoothly since Cashman demanded a restructuring of baseball operations in October 2005, and he must blunt the appearance that this might have changed.
Oh, the spin on this one, when it happens, is going to be something…