Brian Cashman admits Yankees should have traded Robinson Cano before free agency

In a span of half a season, the Yankees now have the second-best farm system in the Major Leagues, only behind the rebuilding Atlanta Braves.

Part of the reason for that was trading veterans Aroldis ChapmanCarlos Beltran and Andrew Miller at the August deadline. Chapman and Beltran were in the final years of their respective contracts while Miller had less than three years remaining.

The game plan in 2016 worked for Cashman, which earned him praise with the fans and media.

If there’s was thing Cashman regrets not doing, it’s trading another ex-Yankee before he became a free agent.

We’re talking about Seattle Mariner Robinson Cano.

“Turning the clock back with Robby Cano, it looked like he was going to stay with us,” Cashman said in an interview with FanGraphs on Tuesday. “We pursued an extension with him ,and it wasn’t even close with what he wanted,” Cashman said. “He was, to me, someone we ultimately should have moved at the deadline but didn’t. So he left us as a free agent.”

The Yankees made the same mistake when they allowed current Chicago White Sox David Robertson to leave as a free agent as well. The Yankees ended up learning from their mistakes, which was why the Yankees had the framework for the Chapman trade done three days prior to actually pulling the trigger on the trade.

The only hold-up was Cashman had to wait for Hal Steinbrenner to ‘OK’ the deal, which roughly took 72 hours after Cashman called Chicago Cubs GM Theo Epstein. But to Cashman’s surprise, Steinbrenner said yes.

“It’s not the first time I’ve suggested that,” Cashman said of retooling. “It’s the first time ownership actually agreed to do it.”

Even after trading most of their veterans, the Yankees were in the Wild Card race until the last week of the 2016 season. That proved the Yankees could rebuild and compete at the same time.

“When people say you can’t rebuild in New York I say, ‘You’re a liar,” Cashman told me. “We did.”

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