No, this is not clickbait. Brian Cashman is the best executive in baseball.
Theo Epstein has long been considered the best general manager/executive in the sport, and for obvious reasons. He became the youngest GM in baseball history at age 28. He helped end the two longest World Series droughts in baseball history. Countless awards and recognitions. He’s a baseball genius and future executive Hall of Famer.
I want to clarify this now: I am not trying to discount anything any other GM or executive has done. All the GMs I name in this article are incredible.
I asked the rest of the guys on the website who they believe are the top 4 executives in baseball today. The names they listed: Cashman, Theo, AJ Preller (Padres), Dave Dombrowski (Red Sox), Andrew Friedman (Dodgers), and Jeff Lunhow (Astros).
All of them great executives and GMs, but none of them are Brian Cashman.
Theo and Cashman are widely regarded as the two best in baseball, with Theo often being regarded as #1. It’s time to explain why that isn’t the case.
Theo’s biggest claim is his ability to find talent in the draft.
Here’s a list of some of Epstein’s best draft picks over his career:
Kris Bryant, Jonathon Papelbon, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mookie Betts, Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo, Dustin Pedroia, Clay Buchholz, Travis Shaw, Ian Happ.
Combined bWAR: 202.6
Now here’s a list of some of Cashman’s best draft picks over his career:
Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson, Dellin Betances, Mark Melancon, David Robertson, Ian Kennedy, Jordan Montgomery, Joba Chamberlain, Tyler Clippard.
Combined bWAR: 141.1
Clearly, Theo is way better in this aspect. Of the best 10 I could find for each of them, Theo blows Cashman out of the water. 141 WAR combined is still a high number for 10 players, especially when this includes players who are still continuing their careers.
This is how Cashman makes up for his “lack” of drafting skills.
I asked a Red Sox fan who he thought the Sox’s best foreign player while Epstein was in charge was. His answer? “lol I guess Hideki Okajima”. Theo has never been big on foreign signings, whether it’s the international amateur signings, or a posted player. His best signing with the Sox was Daisuke Matsuzaka, who finished his career with 9.5 WAR.
As for his time with the Cubs, Theo has gotten better. His #2 and #3 prospects according to MLB Pipeline are Jose Albertos and Adbert Alzolay, both from international signings. There’s also Jen-Ho Tseng who sits at #13. He also signed guys like Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez, and Oscar De La Cruz, all of whom are no longer with the club.
Theo still isn’t huge in the international market, but he has gotten better in the international market.
As for Cashman, this is where he makes up for his drafting. In his time with the Yankees, Cashman has landed Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Hideki Matsui, Orlando Hernandez, Alfonso Soriano, Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera, Francisco Cervelli, and Ivan Nova
This groups combined bWAR? A RIDICULOUS 204.3. Yes, it’s that high even with players like Sanchez, Severino, Tanaka, and others continuing their careers.
If you take both exec’s drafted players and foreign players bWAR and added them together, Cashman would be sitting at 345.4 bWAR, whereas Theo would be sitting at 219.1. That’s a pretty significant gap.
Cashman has always been huge in the foreign market and will always continue to be. Theo has gotten better but still doesn’t put in big efforts on the foreign market. Cashman clearly is the better executive in this aspect.
Cashman wins another category.
Theo is great at trading, as he has traded for players such as Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrieta, Carl Edwards Jr, Kyle Hendricks, Josh Beckett, Victor Martinez, Dexter Fowler, Aroldis Chapman, Wade Davis, Jose Quintana, Addison Russell, and Curt Schilling. All of these players have had big moments in their careers, except for Edwards Jr. and Addison Russell, who are both still in the beginning of their careers but are both extremely promising players.
However Cashman is a master at trading, in more than just the players he acquires. However, the players he has acquired is a list in its own rights. Cashman has traded for players such as Chuck Knoblauch, Roger Clemens, David Justice, Robin Ventura, Alex Rodriguez, Giancarlo Stanton, Didi Gregorius, Randy Johnson, Mike Stanton, Nick Swisher, and Curtis Granderson.
Theo’s trades career WAR: 275.1
Cashman’s trades career WAR: 630.6
Take this list with a grain of salt because both GM’s acquired these players in different times of their careers, but regardless, Cashman shatters Theo’s number by almost 400 bWAR.
Both lists of acquisitions are great, but Cashman’s is superior in every way.
Running the Club
Theo has done some amazing things. He has helped break the two most infamous streaks in baseball, won multiple championships, and navigated the Cubs from the bottom of the MLB to winning the last game of the season.
Theo took over the Red Sox when he was hired on November 25th, 2002, a hiring that made him the youngest GM in MLB history. The Sox were coming off of 5 straight second place finishes, a spot they would continue to finish in through the 2005 season, however the team did win the World Series in 2004, partially due to Epstein and partially not (he was GM when they signed Ortiz and wouldn’t have won the series without him, but the foundation of the team was laid out before his arrival). The Sox won it all again in 2007, and made the playoffs in 2 of his final 4 years with the club after the ‘07 title.
Theo then went on to a Cubs team that was coming off of consecutive second-to-last place finishes. After Theo took the helm, the Cubs would win a maximum of 73 games over his first three years before busting out for a 97 win season and an NLCS appearance in 2015, and eventually winning the World Series in 7 games in 2016.
Theo had to endure a rebuild in order to bring the Cubs back to the top. This isn’t easy to do, as prospects fail and you have to combine in-house talent with free agent signings, youth with experience, and analytics with regular baseball in a perfect way, otherwise an entire rebuild can fail. Theo was perfect in his execution.
A lot of people either don’t remember or just kind of ignore how he left the Red Sox team. In Theo’s last two seasons, the club finished 3rd in their division and missed the playoffs both years, and then finished 5th in the year following his departure. The 2012 Red Sox had one of the highest payrolls in baseball and finished in last place in the AL East with a roster that had bad pitching and a bad offense. If the Dodgers hadn’t saved Boston’s ass, the franchise would STILL be completely screwed. Theo jumped from a sinking ship that the new executives fixed.
“But the Sox won the World Series in 2013, how is that a sinking ship?” The Red Sox added a lot of veteran talent in the 2012-13 offseason, which they were able to do because of the Dodgers trade and moves that were made after Theo left. They also went on to come in last the two seasons following the World Series title.
Since Cashman took over in 1998, the Yankees have never won less than 84 games. Their so called “Dark Era” was a 4 year span from 2013-2016, a span that half of the MLB franchises would kill to have. The Yankees are known for having the harshest media and fans with the absolute highest expectations. Cashman navigated through both without any issues.
Cashman took a club that was 1 game under .500 at the trade deadline with a middling farm system that really didn’t have any breakout pieces. After players like Bird and Severino graduated, the Yankees were left with nothing special. Cashman turned players like Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran into future stars that saved our franchise. Basically, he rebuilt the club in a couple months.
Aroldis Chapman is the prime example of what Cashman does.
After the DV acquisitions and impending suspension prior to the 2016 season, the Yankees decided to buy Chapman at a major discount, wait for his suspension to be up, then trade him for a major profit. The move ended up netting us our second basemen of the future in Gleyber torres, and brought back a big piece for the bullpen in Adam Warren, as well as two smaller, but also very good pieces in Billy Mckinney and Rashad Crawford.
After the Cubs won the World Series, the Yankees then went on to resign Aroldis Chapman to the largest contract ever given to a reliever, a deal he was 100% worth. After all the dust settled from the trade, it basically ended up like this:
Cubs received: Brendan Ryan
Yankees received: Starlin Castro, Gleyber Torres, Billy Mckinney, Rashad Crawford.
Pretty incredible if you ask me.
Theo and Cashman both have one knock against them: they’ve only worked for big market clubs. While this is true, Cashman is currently being put under money restraints for the first time and is doing it flawlessly. He added Giancarlo Stanton, a man who is owed over 290 million for the rest of his contract and $25,000,000 this upcoming season, and did so by only adding $475,000 to the payroll.
It is more impressive to retool than to rebuild. Anyone can lose 100 games for years and build their way back up as long as they have the right idea of how to do it. It takes a special kind of person to completely overhaul a middling club with an aging roster to a World Series caliber team while cutting payroll and age and not having a losing season in the process. Oh, and he also brought the team’s farm system from the bottom half of the league to top 3 in the process as well.
Theo is also incredible, as he is unmatched in drafting. However, when you combine Cashman’s ability to find talent on the international market and trade market, and what he’s done with the Yankees over the last year and a half, it’s clear that Cashman has taken the hypothetical throne from Theo Epstein as the game’s best executive.
It’s time to start giving Cashman the recognition at the fact that he is more than a man. Cashman is a baseball god.
In CashGod we trust.