NEW YORK -- Two offseasons ago, as Chris Sale was being dangled in trade talks by the White Sox, Brian Cashman took a hard look at his roster and decided that it was not the correct time to "back the truck up" and unload a rich prospect-laden package for the ace left-hander.
When Sale landed instead with the Red Sox, Cashman lauded his American League East opponents by saying that they had assembled baseball's version of the NBA's Golden State Warriors. During this week's General Managers Meetings in Carlsbad, Calif., Cashman was asked to revisit that deal that could have been.
"Thank God I didn't do that, actually, because you'd be missing some serious components of our Major League club right now that are under control," Cashman said. "We wouldn't have gotten anywhere if I did anything like that with the White Sox back then."
Cashman has said that right-hander Luis Severino and catcher Gary Sanchez were among the players being insisted upon by the White Sox in exchange for Sale, plus at least two other prospects.
Severino was coming off a terrible season that saw him go 3-8 with a 5.83 ERA in 22 games (11 starts), but he rebounded to earn selection as an All-Star in 2017. Sanchez had just belted 20 homers in 53 games, compiling a 1.032 OPS and finishing second in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting.
"It's multiple All-Star-caliber players that would have had to go in that deal," Cashman said. "It's no different than turning the clock back on Johan Santana when he went from Minnesota to the Mets [in January 2008]. We could have played on it, but it would have taken three or four pieces off our club. When the dust settles, you're no better for the takeaways than the additions.
"In this case, you'd be losing starting position players that you have that are under control, as well as a Cy Young Award candidate in his own right."
Boston landed Sale at the Winter Meetings in December 2016, agreeing to part with a four-player package of infielder Yoan Moncada, pitcher Michael Kopech, outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and right-hander Victor Diaz. Sale is 29-12 with a 2.56 ERA in 59 regular-season starts for Boston.
"We made the right play on it, and they made obviously the right choice," Cashman said. "We just weren't in a position back then. I've got no regrets on that."
After selling at the 2016 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Yankees believed that '17 might be a rebuilding year. They were pleasantly surprised when "Baby Bombers" like Severino, Sanchez and Aaron Judge developed ahead of schedule.
The non-trade has some relevance to the Yanks' current situation because, coming off a 100-win season and intent upon avoiding a third straight AL Wild Card Game, Cashman may be more inclined to gamble on a substantial move.
"I'm open to do smart business decisions and see where it takes us," Cashman said. "I feel like we made the smart business decision back then. We'll continue the same process and try and make good, sound business decisions moving forward to make sure we're a championship-caliber team today as well as in the future."