Yankees general manager Brian Cashman met the press today and talked a little about outgoing manager Joe Girardi, a good bit about what he’s seeking in a new manager and the process by which that man will be found.
Cashman started by throwing a bit of shade on Girardi, it seems, by saying that part of the reason he is not being brought back was his displeasure with how Girardi would “engage, communicate and connect with playing personnel.” Which is a fancy way of saying that the players weren’t listening to him or he wasn’t making as big an effort to reach them as necessary.
As I said in my post following the news of Girardi’s departure, that’s a valid reason to move on from Girardi, especially given that the most important players on this team going forward are the younger ones, but I’m rather surprised that Cashman actually said this publicly. You’d figure after a decade of service, Girardi — who says he wants to manage again — may have felt he was owed a standard “we just wanted to go in a different direction” comment from his old boss, but now he’s been labeled as a guy with poor communication skills. Tough thing to do.
Cashman then talked about the search for the next Yankees manager. He said that, while Girardi was a former Yankees player, he is not prioritizing any preexisting relationship between candidates and the club. He said he wants someone who is open to new ideas and outside-the-box thinking, though he also said he did not have a problem with Girardi in this respect. Perhaps most interestingly, Cashman said that any candidates he brings in to interview will be made available to the media afterward. While this may strike some as odd, Joel Sherman of the Post makes a good point when he says that, in doing so, Cashman will be able to get a sense of how the manager will handle the press, which is a pretty important part of the job these days, especially in New York.
Cashman said there is no time frame on the managerial search, but he has only two full weeks before the week of Thanksgiving, and then one full week after that before the Winter Meetings, when teams almost always have a guy in place.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.