It was surprising when the Yankees signed Rafael Soriano… mostly because Brian Cashman had been saying, pretty clearly, that he did not intend to. He explained that he didn’t want to give up a first-round draft pick for anybody besides Cliff Lee (and especially not a pick that would then go to the Rays), and that made good sense, especially since decent relievers can generally be uncovered from within the organization. Today, at the press conference officially announcing Soriano’s signing, Cashman admitted – or perhaps “confirmed” is the better word - that as many suspected (and several, including Buster Olney, previously reported) it was not ultimately his call. Per Joe LeMaire, on Twitter:
Yankees GM Brian Cashman acknowledges he did not recommend signing of Soriano. Says final call was Hal Steinbrenner’s.
Cashman: “I just didn’t think it was an efficient way to allocate our remaining resources.”
That’s not surprising, as the Soriano contract is very much not Cashman’s style – not, as he says, an efficient allocation of resources. But I was under the impression that Cashman had successfully wrested control of the Yankees’ baseball decision, except perhaps in the case of a blockbuster like Alex Rodriguez’s most recent signing. And while of course Hal Steinbrenner owns the team and has a right to have input on how his money is spent, I find it puzzling that he would choose to interfere here, in the case of a middle reliever. Signing Soriano is not likely to have a huge impact on the team either way – they’re overpaying for him, but not by a crippling amount, and it’s unlikely to prevent the Yankees from making whatever other moves they feel they need to. Still, it seems like a weird thing for Hal to overrule his GM on. It’s a George kind of move.
Meanwhile, in further disturbing news: we also learned that Cashman not only considered Carl Pavano as a plug for the Yanks’ starting pitcher gap, but (per LoHud) had several discussions with The American Idle’s agent. Yipes! I choose to see this as just a sad, transparent attempt to make Andy Pettitte come rushing back into the Yankees’ arms…
UPDATE: Oh gosh – per WFAN (via Hardball Talk) the Yanks actually made an offer! One year, $10 million, supposedly. ”Carl, how would you like to hear 50,000 people screaming contemptuous insults at you every fifth day…”