Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
SAN DIEGO -- The Yankees had agreed to a deal with Gerrit Cole hours earlier, but the world didn't know it yet. A few minutes past eight on Tuesday night, Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone and most of the front office left the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego for some fresh air and dinner at Seasons 52, a restaurant next door.
The group was happy, of course, but somewhat subdued, given the magnitude of the news -- save for Boone, that is, who quietly pumped his fist several times during the short walk, much to the amusement of his co-workers.
Cashman and Co. have been doing this way too long to hoot and holler and act like they'd won anything. Sure, they'd landed their top free agent target, but they still haven't seen the World Series in ten years, and still haven't turned the "Baby Bombers" brand into another generation of Yankee champions.
That's why, in order to ensure they spent wisely on Cole, the Yankees must continue to work on solidifying a roster that Cashman built so effectively during the middle years of this decade.
Their next move will be an important one for their clubhouse, if they re-sign Brett Gardner as expected. Then, they should turn their attention to extending a pair of players who fit seamlessly in New York: James Paxton and D.J. LeMahieu.
Paxton is set to become a free agent after this season, and the Yankees should prevent that from happening. After a bumpy start in his first season in the Bronx, he made one tweak to his repertoire, emphasizing his curveball, and began pitching like an ace all the way to a temporarily season-saving win in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.
Internally, the Yankees believe that the public underrated Paxton's season. The team sees him as a fierce competitor with elite talent and a low-key personality unaffected by playing in New York. He's a keeper.
Paxton is represented by Scott Boras, whose record-setting deals for Cole and Stephen Strasburg this week will likely trickle down, and make it more difficult to retain Paxton.
Would he consider an extension before next season?
"Our policy is always listen to any proposal a club makes to a player," Boras told SNY when asked about Paxton. That's not a particularly revelatory comment, but it's not a firm no, either.
LeMahieu will also be a free agent after this season, and his value is so obvious it's not even worth laying out the case here. He's a perfect Yankee in the late-'90s mode, hard stop.
So far this offseason, the team has been focused on Cole, and hasn't needed to worry about Paxton and LeMahieu yet. But now that they have invested $324 million over the next nine years, they must hold the rest of their championship-caliber roster together.
That should mean turning their attention to two players who have earned their way into the new core.