Brian Cashman against Soriano deal
NEW YORK -- Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he did not want to sign Rafael Soriano because he didn't feel paying closer money to the team's setup man made sense. And, in the end, Cashman said he did not participate in negotiations with Soriano's agent, Scott Boras.
"I didn't recommend [the deal]," Cashman said after the team officially introduced Soriano as its eighth-inning man in front of closer Mariano Rivera.
Cashman's statements were made after the formal introduction and not on the dais directly in front of Soriano.
Cashman said his feelings have nothing to do with Soriano himself. The 31-year-old is a fine reliever, Cashman said, but as he tries to pare down the Yankees' $200 million payroll he would have preferred a more patient approach. The executives above Cashman disagreed.
The Yankees hierarchy -- owners Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, along with team president Randy Levine -- wanted to improve the team this offseason.
Levine said that the club is running a "$5 billion" business and the team has a "sacred obligation" to its fans. He, like Cashman, played down any potential rift in the organization.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Seth WenigNew Yankees setup man Rafael Sariano looks forward to being Mariano Rivera's understudy and hopes to succeed him one day.
"Cash is the best general manager in the game," Levine said.
Cashman's contract is up at the end of this season. Per team policy, no new deal is expected to be negotiated until after the 2011 season. Cashman doesn't think his power has been usurped.
"I think it's a sign that at times if Hal feels he wants to go in a different direction -- that could happen," Cashman said. "And I think that's certainly the case."
As far as Soriano's contract, Levine did the majority of the negotiating with Boras. The two sides agreed on a three-year, $35 million deal that includes player opt-outs after each of the first two seasons. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he considers Soriano his eighth-inning closer and Rivera his ninth-inning closer.
"I don't think there is a difference pitching the eighth inning compared to the ninth inning," said Soriano, who led the American League in saves with 45.
"I know that a lot of people will find this strange, but I'm very happy to be close to one of the greatest closers," Soriano said through a translator. "And hopefully in the future, I will after being a setup man, be a closer, too. I'm going to learn a lot from him."
Joba Chamberlain will remain in the bullpen, Girardi and Cashman also said.
Cashman felt he needed to be honest with how he felt about the move because he had made it known to many members of the media that he didn't think it would be wise to pay so much for an eighth-inning guy. The Yankees have had bad experiences with multiyear deals for Steve Karsay and Kyle Farnsworth, among others.
"I'm charged with obviously winning a championship," Cashman said. "I'm charged with building a farm system. I'm charged with getting the payroll down, and this certainly will help us try to win a championship. There's no doubt about that, so that's in the plus column, but I didn't recommend it, just because I didn't think it was an efficient way to allocate the remaining resources we have, and we had a lot of debate about that.
"Like everything that's available on the free-agent market and the trade market, you discuss all of it. You make your recommendations to ownership and then they choose what direction they prefer to go given the circumstance. My plan would be patience and waiting. They obviously acted. And we are better, there's no doubt about it.
"There's no dispute over the player whatsoever. He's going to help us. We are better with Soriano -- there's no doubt about that. It's all the other stuff wrapped around the deal, the money, allocating closer-type money to an eighth-inning guy, those type of things. So we've, the people who cover me, asked me several times my interest level in this type of a concept and I think they know directly or indirectly that was something I would have been risk-averse to and that's still the case. I'm not here to tell you anything otherwise."
Cashman said that losing his team's first-round pick -- which he said he wouldn't do for anyone other than Cliff Lee -- was a factor as well.
"I think 29 clubs would love to have Rafael Soriano thrown down their throats," Cashman said.
While Hal and Hank Steinbrenner were not present at the news conference, Levine emphasized that there were no problems between Cashman and ownership.
"In the end, there is one thing that we all agree -- that [Cashman] said, we all said --- he makes the Yankees a lot better," Levine said. "That's what we have to do every day.
"Hal and Hank, myself, everyone has a sacred obligation to our fans to make the team better in any way we can," Levine said. "The Yankee brand is important. There are fans all over the world. From George Steinbrenner on, we have to put the best product we possibly can put on the line. Cash looks at it from baseball operations, as he should. We look at it as running a $5 billion company. Really, the issue came down to, does this make the Yankees better?"
Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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