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Winter Meetings interview with Brian Cashman

MLB.com

Q. Did any part of this surprise you how it came together?

BRIAN CASHMAN: I mean, yes, basically only in the fact that it's a huge commitment. He's a big-time player, certainly wasn't approaching the winter expecting to be talking about something like this, but we're excited where we are.

It was an opportunity that when it presented itself, if we could find a way to thread the needle with Michael Hill and the Marlins, it obviously made the decision that it would be in our best interests and here we are.

Q. When did discussions with Michael Hill and the Marlins about Giancarlo really get going?

BRIAN CASHMAN: In passing, like the GM meetings I started having conversations there, but at the same time I had to kind of leave -- the DH role's an important piece here, because obviously with our excess, we need to be to create a flow where everyone would get involved in the lineup, and utilize it as an advantage to rest people, and maneuver on a weekly basis so to speak.

But I had to keep that vacancy open until the Otani situation declared itself, and once Otani declared himself as everything east of the Mississippi wasn't in play, then we pivoted and engaged further. I've been keeping Hal Steinbrenner abreast of the dialogue, and how interested he would or wouldn't be in this circumstance and under the circumstances that we are dealing with, especially for 2018 and where our payroll needs to be, it was going to be potentially a challenge, but something that if we could thread that needle he would be all in.

We have had a lot of dialogue. I felt maybe Wednesday of last week I thought it was not going to happen. I mean, they had already cut deals, which is very public, with two other franchises, but nothing had been consummated in terms of approval. So I every now and then just touched in with Michael, and as of Wednesday I felt it was not something that was going to happen. I just said, "Hey, I'll see you in Orlando. Good luck with how this process plays out." And then he reengaged me Thursday, I believe it was, and then we had a deal like we were going back and forth up through Thursday night and cut a deal late, late Thursday night with a lot of different -- his asks weren't workable. My requests or offers weren't workable. We finally concluded with what we have here.

Friday we dotted I's and crossed T's, got more people involved, including Baseball. And then Friday night he flew in, I believe, to Tampa or might have been Saturday morning, but a physical Saturday at Tampa, Florida at the complex, which is more challenging. Our doctor was here Friday with our trainers at the Winter Meetings, so we had to try to coordinate, do we get him back to New York? Do we get him over to Tampa? Where is he at? He lives in Miami and he happened to be there. So at Saturday was a full day of physicals and then we didn't get all the full workups, like blood results and stuff until this morning. So once that happened, the sign of the cross was in, and I know you guys have had this thing since probably Thursday night or Friday. So sorry, we have to catch up to your reporting, but we are here, we're happy with where we are.

Q. How is this going to work out positionally with him? What do you guys plan to do?

BRIAN CASHMAN: DH, right field, maybe left field. Just depends on the circumstances of our club at the time and who is needing more time in the DH role. His attitude's been great, it's like, "Hey, whatever you need me to do, I'm there. I'll do whatever you guys think is best." So we have spots for everybody and we're going to put the best team on the field on a daily basis we possibly can. Having that vacancy currently Matt Holliday's free agency creates an opportunity for us to be able to make some moves.

Q. Do you see Stanton or Judge or and Judge possibly playing left field is the first question?

BRIAN CASHMAN: I think we'll see how it all shakes out. Gardner's playing left field.

Q. But in terms of if they obviously, if he can play left but those two, you think both of them could possibly play left?

BRIAN CASHMAN: We'll see. Again, I think they're both athletic enough that if other issues arise on the club that the location we're playing in, and if there's a tough left-hander and we want to rest a lefty, and these guys are athletic enough, you know maybe left field is an opportunity for either one of them, I don't know. We'll find out over time. Clearly right field and DH work, but I think they're athletic enough to be considered elsewhere.

Q. The second question is, if you signed Otani, there's no Stanton deal?

BRIAN CASHMAN: It's hard to speculate now, because that we never signed that player. So, but obviously us being in the position to be more serious about it, because the Otani situation when he was potentially in play, the DH spot was going to be the area that he could've gotten his at-bats, as a two-way player.

Q. Do you go in thinking Judge will have more time in right field?

BRIAN CASHMAN: I go in thinking that whatever's in our best interests going forward. I think Judge has done a great job in right field for us. I think Stanton's obviously extremely athletic. I think they both can play around. Judge has played centerfield. We have already had dialogue about, "Hey, what if there's a situation tough left-hander, and you want all these guys in the outfield." And so Boonie's asking us a lot of questions about it, "What's Judge look like if you had to play him at center?" He played there.

So again as we move forward, we're going to learn our club, see what the capabilities are. But the very easiest aspect of it is right field and DH, and I think both players will benefit from the DH rest. You won't have to run somebody into the ground every day. So we'll see.

I called before doing this, I did call Aaron Judge and he's one of our leaders, as you all know, despite being so young. So I remember reaching out to him prior to consummating and just floating the weather balloon about, "Hey, my job as general manager is constantly look at every opportunity that may present itself, and this is one that is staring me in the face here that I have some interest in. I want to get your feedback on it, and just how it could fit between DH, right field and left field and the cast of characters we have," which is excess right now, clearly, and that could always change, who knows, but his response was, "Cash, we're going to do everything we can to win and that's going to make it easier in that matter. Doesn't guarantee anything but he was pumped." He said, "Hey, I'm pumped. This is exciting. If could you pull that off that would be amazing." I didn't talk about who we would be giving up, so he didn't know that aspect. I just talked about the acquisition part and how our lineup could be even more enhanced, and he thought it was exciting just as that was our determination as well.

But I did want to reach out to him and get a feel from his perspective, and I was excited even more so by his response.

Q. Does Jack Ellsbury have a spot on your roster?

BRIAN CASHMAN: Yeah, he has a spot.

Q. What's his position?

BRIAN CASHMAN: His role, he fits the way he -- currently he's going to come in and compete to take his job back. There was a job that was taken from him during the regular season. He got some time obviously in the postseason with the DH spot. I think that he had been playing really well for us until the concussion, and then that took him down for a period of time with the DL spot, and then it took him a time to get back and find his stride. When Hicks went down with the ribcage, he was one of the reasons we were able to hold off everybody else in terms of the Wild Card because he excelled. He was one of our best hitters in August and first two weeks of September, which helped us secure that postseason berth.

So I think he's got a lot of capabilities. He's got a lot of pride. I think he's intending to try to find a way to take that job back. The season ended with Hicks as the everyday centerfielder. So I think it's easy to presume going in that Hicks would be the everyday centerfielder, regardless and but that doesn't mean that Els can't take it back. It doesn't mean that Els can't play a role as a player ready to go when called upon.

So his role is to help us any which way he can when and if is needed, and that could be on an everyday basis it could be in a role basis. I know it's an extensive circumstance with the contract, but that was my doing. Therefore, that's not something that factors into what's going forward in 2018 or 2019. I think you saw that we don't make decisions based on money that way. We make decisions on what somebody has a chance to step up and get more playing time, I think their performance dictates that.

Q. A year ago, there was some trades going on. How have the team's performance last year over time kind of changed the whole way of doing of business? It's a big change in the year, right?

Q. Did any part of this surprise you how it came together?

BRIAN CASHMAN: I mean, yes, basically only in the fact that it's a huge commitment. He's a big-time player, certainly wasn't approaching the winter expecting to be talking about something like this, but we're excited where we are.

It was an opportunity that when it presented itself, if we could find a way to thread the needle with Michael Hill and the Marlins, it obviously made the decision that it would be in our best interests and here we are.

Q. When did discussions with Michael Hill and the Marlins about Giancarlo really get going?

BRIAN CASHMAN: In passing, like the GM meetings I started having conversations there, but at the same time I had to kind of leave -- the DH role's an important piece here, because obviously with our excess, we need to be to create a flow where everyone would get involved in the lineup, and utilize it as an advantage to rest people, and maneuver on a weekly basis so to speak.

But I had to keep that vacancy open until the Otani situation declared itself, and once Otani declared himself as everything east of the Mississippi wasn't in play, then we pivoted and engaged further. I've been keeping Hal Steinbrenner abreast of the dialogue, and how interested he would or wouldn't be in this circumstance and under the circumstances that we are dealing with, especially for 2018 and where our payroll needs to be, it was going to be potentially a challenge, but something that if we could thread that needle he would be all in.

We have had a lot of dialogue. I felt maybe Wednesday of last week I thought it was not going to happen. I mean, they had already cut deals, which is very public, with two other franchises, but nothing had been consummated in terms of approval. So I every now and then just touched in with Michael, and as of Wednesday I felt it was not something that was going to happen. I just said, "Hey, I'll see you in Orlando. Good luck with how this process plays out." And then he reengaged me Thursday, I believe it was, and then we had a deal like we were going back and forth up through Thursday night and cut a deal late, late Thursday night with a lot of different -- his asks weren't workable. My requests or offers weren't workable. We finally concluded with what we have here.

Friday we dotted I's and crossed T's, got more people involved, including Baseball. And then Friday night he flew in, I believe, to Tampa or might have been Saturday morning, but a physical Saturday at Tampa, Florida at the complex, which is more challenging. Our doctor was here Friday with our trainers at the Winter Meetings, so we had to try to coordinate, do we get him back to New York? Do we get him over to Tampa? Where is he at? He lives in Miami and he happened to be there. So at Saturday was a full day of physicals and then we didn't get all the full workups, like blood results and stuff until this morning. So once that happened, the sign of the cross was in, and I know you guys have had this thing since probably Thursday night or Friday. So sorry, we have to catch up to your reporting, but we are here, we're happy with where we are.

Q. How is this going to work out positionally with him? What do you guys plan to do?

BRIAN CASHMAN: DH, right field, maybe left field. Just depends on the circumstances of our club at the time and who is needing more time in the DH role. His attitude's been great, it's like, "Hey, whatever you need me to do, I'm there. I'll do whatever you guys think is best." So we have spots for everybody and we're going to put the best team on the field on a daily basis we possibly can. Having that vacancy currently Matt Holliday's free agency creates an opportunity for us to be able to make some moves.

Q. Do you see Stanton or Judge or and Judge possibly playing left field is the first question?

BRIAN CASHMAN: I think we'll see how it all shakes out. Gardner's playing left field.

Q. But in terms of if they obviously, if he can play left but those two, you think both of them could possibly play left?

BRIAN CASHMAN: We'll see. Again, I think they're both athletic enough that if other issues arise on the club that the location we're playing in, and if there's a tough left-hander and we want to rest a lefty, and these guys are athletic enough, you know maybe left field is an opportunity for either one of them, I don't know. We'll find out over time. Clearly right field and DH work, but I think they're athletic enough to be considered elsewhere.

Q. The second question is, if you signed Otani, there's no Stanton deal?

BRIAN CASHMAN: It's hard to speculate now, because that we never signed that player. So, but obviously us being in the position to be more serious about it, because the Otani situation when he was potentially in play, the DH spot was going to be the area that he could've gotten his at-bats, as a two-way player.

Q. Do you go in thinking Judge will have more time in right field?

BRIAN CASHMAN: I go in thinking that whatever's in our best interests going forward. I think Judge has done a great job in right field for us. I think Stanton's obviously extremely athletic. I think they both can play around. Judge has played centerfield. We have already had dialogue about, "Hey, what if there's a situation tough left-hander, and you want all these guys in the outfield." And so Boonie's asking us a lot of questions about it, "What's Judge look like if you had to play him at center?" He played there.

So again as we move forward, we're going to learn our club, see what the capabilities are. But the very easiest aspect of it is right field and DH, and I think both players will benefit from the DH rest. You won't have to run somebody into the ground every day. So we'll see.

I called before doing this, I did call Aaron Judge and he's one of our leaders, as you all know, despite being so young. So I remember reaching out to him prior to consummating and just floating the weather balloon about, "Hey, my job as general manager is constantly look at every opportunity that may present itself, and this is one that is staring me in the face here that I have some interest in. I want to get your feedback on it, and just how it could fit between DH, right field and left field and the cast of characters we have," which is excess right now, clearly, and that could always change, who knows, but his response was, "Cash, we're going to do everything we can to win and that's going to make it easier in that matter. Doesn't guarantee anything but he was pumped." He said, "Hey, I'm pumped. This is exciting. If could you pull that off that would be amazing." I didn't talk about who we would be giving up, so he didn't know that aspect. I just talked about the acquisition part and how our lineup could be even more enhanced, and he thought it was exciting just as that was our determination as well.

But I did want to reach out to him and get a feel from his perspective, and I was excited even more so by his response.

Q. Does Jack Ellsbury have a spot on your roster?

BRIAN CASHMAN: Yeah, he has a spot.

Q. What's his position?

BRIAN CASHMAN: His role, he fits the way he -- currently he's going to come in and compete to take his job back. There was a job that was taken from him during the regular season. He got some time obviously in the postseason with the DH spot. I think that he had been playing really well for us until the concussion, and then that took him down for a period of time with the DL spot, and then it took him a time to get back and find his stride. When Hicks went down with the ribcage, he was one of the reasons we were able to hold off everybody else in terms of the Wild Card because he excelled. He was one of our best hitters in August and first two weeks of September, which helped us secure that postseason berth.

So I think he's got a lot of capabilities. He's got a lot of pride. I think he's intending to try to find a way to take that job back. The season ended with Hicks as the everyday centerfielder. So I think it's easy to presume going in that Hicks would be the everyday centerfielder, regardless and but that doesn't mean that Els can't take it back. It doesn't mean that Els can't play a role as a player ready to go when called upon.

So his role is to help us any which way he can when and if is needed, and that could be on an everyday basis it could be in a role basis. I know it's an extensive circumstance with the contract, but that was my doing. Therefore, that's not something that factors into what's going forward in 2018 or 2019. I think you saw that we don't make decisions based on money that way. We make decisions on what somebody has a chance to step up and get more playing time, I think their performance dictates that.

Q. A year ago, there was some trades going on. How have the team's performance last year over time kind of changed the whole way of doing of business? It's a big change in the year, right?

BRIAN CASHMAN: It does and it doesn't. But like last year, obviously, the big deal that happened here I think in the Winter Meetings which was the left-handed starter Sale from the White Sox to the Red Sox, which was obviously a huge addition for the Red Sox. The price tag would have been significant for us to do. So a number of the guys that played a huge roles in getting Cy Young votes for us this year or hitting in the middle of our lineup, whether it was our catcher Gary Sanchez, our right-handed starter in Severino, Bird who was hurt, those were the names that were being thrown as multiples. So to me that type of deal made no sense.

This type of deal makes sense because obviously it was a circumstance where we spoke about the, hold on to the guys that are knocking on the doors that have a chance to contribute. The Marlins are going in a different direction where I think they needed to clear some money, create opportunity and flexibility, as they moved forward. When the Marlins bought a team, I'm sure they had spoken about it, but that they inherited a full no-trade. So they have got their game plan; they're executing it. But in terms if the acquisition costs made enough sense, we would play on it and it did for us.

We still gave up talent. It's hard to say, I appreciate everything Starlin Castro did for us. He was a great pickup for us. A high-character guy. He's tough as nails. He had a great personality. Never saw him have a bad day. He helped us in that win column in many ways. So they have got a plug-and-play everyday, young and controllable infielder. Then the arm we gave up in Guzman, high octane. This guy, it's unusual. I've been a GM now for 20 years, it's unusual we got him as second piece in the Houston Astros deal. But ever since we got him and ever since he was performing the way he was all through the last year and getting better and better and better and adding the performance to match the talent, his name was being asked about at the deadline last year, to this winter. So he's been, he's a very highly sought-after player.

And then Jose Devers is obviously a young talent that someone like a Gary Denbo and a Dan Greenlee would know a lot about, more so than anybody else around the game. He has tremendous upside. He's far away, but he's got tremendous upside. So I think the combination of their knowledge of our system. We gave up talent that we didn't want to give up, but obviously you have to give up something to get someone of Giancarlo's Stanton's situation. So there were long, drawn-out conversations on it.

But anyway there was a big difference in last winter and this winter only in terms of acquisition costs, and we put ourselves in a position to take the next step, where we were still taking steps. There was a lot of uncertainty. Last year from this time I was being asked a lot about whether Severino was a starter or are you going to stick him in the pen, you know? Now there's a lot of things that are answered in a real positive, direct way and we as a franchise have taken another step, and we're hoping that all of our efforts this winter and whatever our acquisitions are, are going to allow us to take the next step. That's what the intents are.

Q. Did you deal with Jeter at all?

BRIAN CASHMAN: No, I only dealt with Michael Hill.

Q. You mentioned Castro a high-character guy, and you built a team, as you prioritized character and clubhouse culture. How much of due diligence were you able to do on Giancarlo and contemplate that kind of component?

BRIAN CASHMAN: It's certainly part of our assessment every decision we make, we connect the physical ability, the personality, the makeup. So yeah that's part of it.

Q. Do you have payroll space for C.C.?

BRIAN CASHMAN: Yeah, we have payroll space because we have more work to do. This situation fits because we still have room to accomplish all of our stated goals, but obviously it takes up some of that space clearly.

Q. Now that this situation is done, how happy are you to have that behind you?

BRIAN CASHMAN: I would rather not get covered or what have you, but at the end of the day like I wasn't intending to go anywhere, never had an interest in going anywhere. So I had told Hal straight up, "Like, listen, let's just try to work through this and get it behind us, because I have no intent of jumping ship." We're fortunate. I'm fortunate but I say "we". We're fortunate to have a great ownership and situation we have amazing young talent that people like Tim Naehring, Damon Oppenheimer, Jim Hendry, Donnie Rowland, Fish, Kevin Reese, Danny Giese, have all helped collect and cultivate. Because of that, this is a destination place. This is a place that I've grown up in, but I didn't want to go anywhere either and especially at this time and place regardless.

I'm glad that I'm staying and we haven't dotted I's and crossed T's. I haven't signed anything yet, but we have pre-agreed to get something done, even though it gets reported ahead of -- and the numbers aren't necessarily accurate, but I don't really care about any of that stuff either.

Q. Is Gleyber your second baseman?

BRIAN CASHMAN: I'll finish real quick. Our second base situation is going to play out one way or the other. We'll see how the rest of our dialogue in the winter goes, and then we have players like a Gleyber Torres, like Torreyes, Tyler Wade, Estrada. We have a lot of good, young, hungry players that depending how it looks in spring and depending upon how our conversations as we move forward this winter play out, so clearly stay tuned. I don't have, nor will Boonie have, a second baseman that we will name on December 11th.

New York Yankees