NEW YORK -- It only makes sense for a shopper to visit the nearest store, so general manager Brian Cashman's search for starting pitching has taken him across borough lines to the Mets, who are considering parting with some exciting young hurlers that could easily fit into the Yankees' rotation.
Cashman said that he has had recent conversations with his friend Omar Minaya, who is sharing the Mets' GM duties during Sandy Alderson's leave of absence. Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard have been frequently mentioned as possible targets, but the Mets could also be interested in selling high on Steven Matz or Zack Wheeler.
"I'll stay in touch with the Mets, as well as everybody throughout," Cashman said. "There's no full-court press I can do. It's a dance that anybody is willing to [can] dance with you. Each team has their own process, their own time frame and their own interests. Again, the hope is like any Trade Deadline, we can find the right song that we can both dance to."
Minaya, J.P. Ricciardi and John Ricco have been tasked with helping the out-of-contention Mets plan for the future in advance of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, while the Yankees are focused on readying their roster to go toe to toe with the likes of the Astros, Indians and Red Sox.
Cashman said that though Masahiro Tanaka is expected to return shortly, and the Yanks have had promising contributions from rookies Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga, he is still preparing to upgrade the starting pitching. That could come at the cost of outfielder Clint Frazier, whom Cashman said continues to draw interest.
"I never said he's off the table. I'd like to keep him," Cashman said. "I think Clint has got a chance to be a really good baseball player in the Major Leagues for a long time. It took a lot to get him here. We'd certainly like to keep him here. … I have a lot of high-end talent that has taken a long time to acquire or cultivate. But it's going to cost something to get stuff. We'll play that game over the next month and see where it takes us."
The Yankees and Mets have not connected on a significant trade since December 2004, when Felix Heredia and Mike Stanton were swapped. Cashman pointed out that he also made deals with the Mets involving David Justice for Robin Ventura (December 2001) and three prospects for Armando Benitez (July 2003).
"I did three different deals with three different GMs over there over the course of time," Cashman said. "As far as I'm concerned, if the matches make sense, I don't care who it's with."
It has been suggested that the Mets would look to exact a tax of sorts in a trade, particularly if they had to stomach watching deGrom or Syndergaard help the Yankees to the postseason. But Cashman noted he would have had no issue trading Albertin Chapman or Andrew Miller to the Red Sox in July 2016; in fact, he recalls offering both players to the Red Sox and the Mets.
"Our effort was to live to fight another day. Our day wasn't today," Cashman said. "So if the best business decisions happened to be with a rival, that was not a problem for me. My job is to do everything I can to improve the present. If the present was gone, then fight for the future."
In addition to the Mets' hurlers, the Yankees are known to have interest in Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ and Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer, the latter of whom had a start observed on Thursday by Yankees scout Jay Darnell. They are thought to be less interested in Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels.
"We have our troops scattered on a daily basis, from analytics to pro scouting, with our targets and assessments," Cashman said. "We make sure we prep it out. If we can match up, that's the biggest part, matching up in a way that we're comfortable with who we're dealing with. It's not easy to match up in trades."