NEW YORK -- Brian Cashman's green light to assume the role of non-waiver Trade Deadline seller was issued by managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner shortly before midnight on Saturday, when the Yankees general manager began actively encouraging other clubs to ask about everyone and anyone on his roster.
For years, Cashman's mantra has been to make the organization younger and more flexible while remaining competitive, though he has never been able to do so this rapidly. The Yankees' hope is that the talented prospect haul about to try on their first sets of pinstripes will represent the beginnings of a new dynasty to come.
The Yankees' top two prospects, outfielder Clint Frazier and infielder Gleyber Torres, weren't in the organization a week ago. Monday's transaction log, including acquiring right-hander Dillon Tate -- the fourth overall pick in the 2015 Draft -- and Minor League pitchers Erik Swanson and Nick Green from the Rangers for outfielder Carlos Beltrán, will further shake up that list.
New York also dealt right-hander Ivan Nova -- like Beltran, a free agent-to-be -- to the Pirates in exchange for two players to be named. Last week, they traded elite relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller to the Cubs and Indians, respectively. The Yankees have not acted as Deadline sellers since 1989, when they sent Rickey Henderson back to the Athletics, and so it was Cashman's desire to seek out both quality and quantity.
"Brian and his staff and the organization are trying to put this team in a good position to have a long run of not just playing well, but winning championships," manager Joe Girardi said. "It's not about being a second Wild Card team and winning one game, or losing one game. We want to win championships. That's what we've always been about. And I think what we're trying to do is position ourselves to do that."
It was difficult for the Yankees to go against their Steinbrenner win-or-else DNA, look in the mirror and determine that the '16 squad was unlikely to hoist a trophy at the end of the World Series. Yet a glance at the club's refreshed Top 30 rankings, as evaluated by MLBPipeline.com, should reflect just how bright tomorrow could be.
"I would say," Cashman said, "there's a recognition of the industry is changing and has changed how you have to go about your business to some degree, if you want to play in certain categories and try to emerge into that super team status, obviously whether it's in the present or the future."
Even Beltran recognized the reasons behind the movement, calling the Yankees' role reversal "smart." By offering their best hitter a chance to chase a title in Texas, New York landed Tate, who has a 5.12 ERA at Class A Hickory but is lauded for his potential. MLBPipeline.com rates his fastball a 65 and his slider a 60.
"Beltran's been great; he's done everything he could possibly do," Cashman said. "Thank God he's provided what he's provided. But we just have not gotten everybody firing on all cylinders."
Beltran signed a three-year, $45 million deal prior to the 2014 campaign, and this year was his best with the club; Girardi said he believed the 39-year-old was finally able to stay healthy. That made Beltran an attractive rental bat, and his big hits may have delivered not only for the Yankees' present, but also their future.
"We didn't really play consistent baseball. We didn't really give management a reason to keep us together," Beltran said.
By and large, the players moved by the Yankees in advance of Monday's 4 p.m. Deadline were not the ones responsible for the '16 club's mediocre record. Cashman remarked several times that the Yanks were counting on 60 homers and 200 RBIs from Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez; they'll fall well short of that projection.
"That's why we are where we are today," Teixeira said. "The Yankees fans want that, and Cash wants that. Hopefully this team will get there soon."
To Cashman, it became clear over the past several weeks that it would be necessary to take a step backward in order to leap ahead. With the American League East only looking more competitive in years to come, this busy week may have been the needed impetus to get back to the top once again.
"I think the picture is much brighter today than it was maybe at any time since I started," Cashman said.