This past offseason Brian Cashman, the New York Yankees’ General Manager, opted not to throw millions at the likes of Max Scherzer and Hanley Ramirez. Instead, Cashman decided to make a flurry of smaller moves that have proved to pay big dividends for the Wild Card-leading New York Yankees. Brian Cashman went out and traded RHP Shane Greene in a three-way trade to acquire Didi Gregorius, a young, upcoming SS who had the potential to become an above average regular if his bat ever caught up with his defense. The other move that particularly stands out is the trade that Cashman made for Nathan Eovaldi, acquiring him, along with a prospect, from the Marlins in exchange for RHP David Phelps and veteran INF/OF Martin Prado.
In these two deals, Cashman accomplished two very difficult feats: get younger and fill needs with players who could have an immediate impact upon arrival in the Bronx. At first, these trades received mix reactions from the Yankees faithful as Gregorius and Eovaldi were fairly uncommon names to the average fan. Yankee fans, not known for their patience, had already had enough of Gregorius just a month into the 2015 season as he was sporting a .206 batting average and his above average defense was nowhere to be found. To make matters worse, Shane Greene, the man Gregorius was traded for, was off to a blazing start, rocking a 3-0 record along with a 0.39 ERA for the Detroit Tigers. At this point, Yankee fans were up in arms wondering why Cashman made such a trade.
This was not the only deal that had Yankee fans wondering if Cashman was the right man for the job. Nathan Eovaldi already had a short leash among Yankee fans because he led the Majors in hits allowed last season. Despite his 1-0 record in April, Eovaldi had a ERA north of 4.00 as well as a abysmal 1.66 WHIP and .344 BAA. Yankee fans believed this was the same old pitcher who gave up 223 hits last season.
With both Gregorius and Eovaldi struggling, Cashman’s offseason looked like a fail. That rapidly changed as the season went on as
both Gregorius and Eovaldi seemingly turned a corner. For Gregorius, he improved his batting average every month up until July when he hit .317. Comparing his first half numbers (81 games) and his second half (38 games), Didi’s vast improvement is evident. Didi had 4 HRs, 19 RBIs, and a .238 batting average in the first half compared to his 3 HRs, 21 RBIs, and a .304 batting average in less than half the amount of games.
Gregorius has also found his above average defense, flexing his range and unbelievable arm. According to Fangraphs, Didi has already accumulated the highest WAR of his career at 1.8. Meanwhile, Shane Greene has fallen apart as he has a 6.88 ERA and has accumulated a 0.0 WAR this season. Eovaldi has also seen a vast improvement when comparing his 1st half stats to his 2nd half stats. Eovaldi had a 4.50 ERA and a .305 BAA in the 1st half compared to his 2.93 ERA and .223 BAA in the 2nd half. Eovaldi’s overall numbers are incredibly solid as he has a 13-2 record with a 4.00 ERA and a 2.7 WAR.
Did I mention that Gregorius and Eovaldi are also both only 25 years old? According to Fangraphs, they have complied a combined 4.5 WAR. As Gregorius and Eovaldi continue to improve with time, their future with the Yankees continues to look brighter and we have one man to thank for that – Brian Cashman.