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Great Moments in the Hot Stove League: When the Yankees passed on Miguel Cabrera

Nov 18, 2013, 8:22 AM EST

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I saw this floating around Twitter over the past several days It’s loads of fun. From the New York Daily News in November 2007, talking about the Yankees and Marlins and a trade for Miguel Cabrera that never happened:

Brian Cashman met with the Marlins at about 6 p.m. last night at the GM meetings. No offers were made, but a source with knowledge of the situation said the Marlins made it clear that the Yankees would have to include either Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain or Ian Kennedy in any trade for Cabrera, something the Yankees are not willing to do. The Yankees would likely offer a deal involving their next tier of prospects, which includes Alan Horne, Humberto Sanchez, Ross Ohlendorf and Jose Tabata.

This came right after Alex Rodriguez opted-out of his $250 million deal and was a free agent. The Yankees, of course, signed him to his current $275 million deal a little over a month later.  In the meantime, they could have traded off, say, Joba Chamberlain for the current two-time MVP and could have let Rodriguez dangle.

That sounds awesome now. But at the time people thought Chamberlain, Hughes and Kennedy were the cat’s meow. And Miguel Cabrera, while clearly a huge talent, wasn’t quite what he is now in most people’s minds. And of course Alex Rodriguez was the best player in the game who, two short years later, would lead the Yankees to their last World Series title.

So, yes, it stings now. But at the time it wasn’t a crazy line of reasoning on Cashman’s part. And while people say hindsight is 20/20, in reality, it’s not. Hindsight obscures a lot of stuff we knew back then — or at least thought we knew back then — but have since forgotten.

  1. deadeyedesign23 - Nov 18, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    I remember that being floated around back then and I still thought the Yankees were crazy not to move forward on that. If it’s true they only wanted ONE of those 3? Come on man.

    • dan1111 - Nov 18, 2013 at 10:07 AM

      Cabrera only had two seasons remaining until free agency, and the Yankees were being asked to give up six seasons of a top pitching prospect for that. I think their refusal was the right call with the information they had at the time.

      • gibbyfan - Nov 18, 2013 at 11:13 AM

        Your logic is good Dan but don’t forget the Yanks were not subjectt ot he same FA concerns as most teams–They had money to burn –and burn it they did on AROD-I think even given what they knew at the time it was a major blunder……Also, If I am not mistaken by letting Arod become a FA and then signing him again they forfeited some significant $$ that the Rangers were on the hook for –the whole episode was flat out bad

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:13 PM

        Also, If I am not mistaken by letting Arod become a FA and then signing him again they forfeited some significant $$ that the Rangers were on the hook for –the whole episode was flat out bad

        Sort of. By opting out of his deal with the Rangers, that relieved them of sending future money to the Yanks. It wasn’t the new contract that did it.

        There’s also a reason Arod went directly to ownership with the deal, Cashman didn’t want to give out that big of a contract.

    • TheMorningStar - Nov 18, 2013 at 11:54 AM

      Ok Cashman apologists, try spinning this one.

      And please, refrain from the tired old “the ownership made him do it” excuse.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:22 PM

        I suppose it depends on how much they knew at the time. As far as they knew they had Giambi under contract already, plus Cano, Jeter, Matsui, Damon etc etc. In other words, offense was not their biggest problem. Meanwhile, they were paying Pavano, Mussina and his 5.15 ERA, and Darrell Rasner started 20 games for the team that year. They needed pitching and badly, and these three were HUGE prospects. Joba had an 0.38 ERA and was probably the most popular Yankee that season. Hughes just made his debut and was supposed to be the next Clemens, and IPK conquered baseball at 4 levels in 2007.

        Cabrera, meanwhile, was a great hitter with conditioning issues who seemed destined for 1B/DH status and ARod was a clearly superior player who could be signed for nothing but money. Obviously we would love to get in our way-back machine now and do this over, but at the time it was an entirely defensible position for Cashman & Co to take.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:14 PM

        Ok Cashman apologists, try spinning this one.

        And please, refrain from the tired old “the ownership made him do it” excuse.

        Cashman didn’t re-sign Arod. Hank did. It’s why whenever you hear anything official come from the Yanks it either comes from Randy Levine, Hal or Cashman. Hank essentially was sent upstate to live with the rabbits after this blunder.

  2. thejotapee - Nov 18, 2013 at 8:52 AM

    A trade that by many is considered the worst trade of all time, and looking back at it, the Marlins would have lost BIG no matter who they traded with. If I recall, the Angels offered Howie Kendrick, Jeff Mathis, and another name that I can’t remember as the center pieces of the deal.

    The only trade that would have gone favorably for the Marlins was the Dodgers offer with Matt Kemp and James Loney as the center pieces.

    • tfbuckfutter - Nov 18, 2013 at 9:33 AM

      So what you’re saying is…. imagine Matt Kemp as a Blue Jay right now?

    • dan1111 - Nov 18, 2013 at 10:41 AM

      Really? Do people consider this the worst trade of all time? The Marlins were never going to re-sign Cabrera, so all they were giving up was two (expensive for them) seasons of him.

      Yes, a bad trade in hindsight, since none of the prospects worked out at all. But far from the worst ever.

      • dluxxx - Nov 18, 2013 at 11:02 AM

        I still think if you’re looking at one sided trades, the AJ Pierzynski to Giants for Liriano, Bonser and Nathan was more one sided, but I’m kinda biased…

      • gibbyfan - Nov 18, 2013 at 11:09 AM

        worst might have been cardnals trading Steve Carlton to the Phillies for Rick Wise

  3. tfbuckfutter - Nov 18, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    The Yankees should never have untouchable prospects because all their untouchable prospects end up sucking.

    • yahmule - Nov 18, 2013 at 9:33 AM

      They talk them up until they start believing their own hype.

      • bigharold - Nov 18, 2013 at 9:54 AM

        Like every other team.

      • dan1111 - Nov 18, 2013 at 10:11 AM

        Yes, who would have believed that those three were top prospects, other than their mothers, the Yankees organization, the Marlins (who wanted them), every other team in baseball, Baseball America prospect rankings, and pretty much every informed commentator on the game?

        This is not a case of Yankees failure, just a reminder that prospects (especially pitchers) are never a sure thing.

      • tfbuckfutter - Nov 18, 2013 at 10:11 AM

        It sucks that other teams buy the hype and trade for guys like Russell Martin.

      • tfbuckfutter - Nov 18, 2013 at 10:18 AM

        Didn’t mean Martin. Meant the guy they traded for Pineda.

      • TheMorningStar - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:09 PM

        Thank you; you’re 100% correct.

        Yankees waaaay overvalue/overrate their prospects.

        Other teams do it as well, sure. But NY takes it to a whole new level.

      • yahmule - Nov 18, 2013 at 4:57 PM

        Phil Hughes has always been vastly overrated, IMO. Feel free to accuse me of hindsight, but he never impressed me.

    • bolweevils2 - Nov 18, 2013 at 11:11 AM

      I assume Derek Jeter was once an untouchable prospect for them. And maybe Mariano and Pettitte as well.

      • tfbuckfutter - Nov 18, 2013 at 11:20 AM

        Probably Mickey Mantle too.

        Which is pretty much saying the same thing considering you’re talking about 2 decades ago at this point.

  4. chip56 - Nov 18, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    To be fair to Cashman, as Craig said, Miggy wasn’t the player he is now and Joba, Hughes and Kennedy were thought of as three of the top pitching talents in the game.

    Also everyone in baseball believed that Cabrera was going to have to move off of 3b so that didn’t address the need that the Yankees had, which would have been a 3b if they looked to replace Alex.

    That same winter Cashman balked at including CM Wang, Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera in a deal to the Twins for Johan Santana – some trades you regret not making, some trades you’re happy you didn’t make.

    • dan1111 - Nov 18, 2013 at 10:19 AM

      In hindsight, moving Cabrera off 3B still looks like a good idea. However, at 1B and DH the 2007 Yanks featured Doug Mientkiewicz and an aging Giambi, so it’s not as if they would have had trouble fitting him in the lineup.

      That Santana trade would have been great for the Yankees, too.

      • chip56 - Nov 18, 2013 at 10:27 AM

        The Santana trade wouldn’t have been great for the Yankees. They would have had to give him a long term deal and then not signed CC the following winter. Maybe Johan stays healthy with the Yankees instead of going through all the injuries he had as a Met, but who knows.

      • dan1111 - Nov 18, 2013 at 10:53 AM

        @chip, I suppose you are right that it’s not a clear win once you factor in their subsequent decisions. They surely would have signed him to a huge contract.

        But would signing Santana to a big contract, and not signing CC have been worse than the status quo? That story hasn’t been written yet. Santana did produce three great seasons. And Sabathia just had a down year and is signed for four more expensive seasons.

        Also, maybe the Yankees would have insured that contract…

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:23 PM

        But would signing Santana to a big contract, and not signing CC have been worse than the status quo? That story hasn’t been written yet. Santana did produce three great seasons. And Sabathia just had a down year and is signed for four more expensive seasons.

        Also, maybe the Yankees would have insured that contract…

        Remember what Cashman said at the time though. Santana would have cost a ton in prospects AND they would have to give up a ton in money to extend him. CC only cost money. The latest contract extension for CC isn’t relevant to the point though. Let’s look at the first two years that CC had with the Yanks vs Santana’s years

        JS – 365.2 IP, 3.05 ERA; 131 ERA+; 8.2 H/9, 0.9 HR/9, 2.5 BB/9, 7.1 K/9
        CC – 467.2 IP, 3.27 ERA; 136 ERA+; 7.8 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 2.7 BB/9, 7.6 K/9

        That 100 more IP has a huge value (7.9 rWAR for JS vs 10.8 rWAR for CC).

  5. historiophiliac - Nov 18, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    Thank you.

  6. aphillieated - Nov 18, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    I like this.

  7. Matt Aromando - Nov 18, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    I like the sound of “the Yankees…last World Series title.”

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      I caught that too. Gosh, the team misses the playoffs one time and now they are written off forever. Tough crowd here at HBT.

  8. djpostl - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    You forgot the part where they also had to eat Dontrelle Willis and his contract in the deal too. Tend to think that factored in the decision.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      had to eat Dontrelle Willis

      The Tigers were run by the Donner Party?

      • djpostl - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:21 PM

        They damn sure would have got more nutritional value out of him (and the extension they gave him) than the pathetic baseball production he provided.

  9. weaselpuppy - Nov 18, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAAAAHHHAAAAHAHAHAHHAHAAAAA.

    Phew, I haven’t laughed that hard since I was a little girl….

    • cha1upabatman - Dec 30, 2013 at 3:36 PM

      Little girl? That explains a lot. Great job on the surgery though, I never would have guessed.

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