As was reported yesterday, former Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has taken a job working for Columbia University. However, there’s news that Columbia was not the only organization that came knocking on Cherington’s door. In fact, it was the New York Yankees.
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Joel Sherman of The New York Post reported that the Yankees tried to sign Cherington, before he ultimately took the job in academia. Sherman wrote that not long after Cherington resigned in August from the Red Sox, “Brian Cashman called to inquire to see if he was interested in working for the Yankees. ‘I reached out to him,’ Cashman told The Post. ‘I have a lot of respect for him, his integrity and how he did his job.’”
Cherington’s value as a GM or another baseball executive, regardless of what Red Sox Nation may think of it, is still high. That worth was prevalent when he declined to interview for GM positions with both the Seattle Mariners and the Philadelphia Phillies. As Sherman says, “[Cherington] left a deep reservoir of young talent for Dombrowski, which enhances what is a good reputation within the sport. In addition, he has strong relationships throughout the game with, for example, [Pittsburgh] Pirates GM Neal Huntington and [Chicago] Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.”
The intriguing thing is the fact that Cherington didn’t want the Yankees position. At least, not yet. Cherington’s wife and family live in New York, even while he was the Red Sox GM. The move to Columbia makes sense to be closer to his family, which has already set up roots there.
A move to Philadelphia or Seattle geographically would not make much sense. With the issues that both teams had this season, there isn’t much baseball-wise to motivate Cherington to move there either. He had a challenge in Boston (78-84), and yet the Mariners (76-86) and the Phillies (63-99) did even worse. Seattle’s stars didn’t come through for a team that was supposed to challenge for a playoff spot and the Phillies gutted their team for young talent already, making both GM positions not only tough but, at least in the case of the Phillies, the overhaul had already started without a new GM.
However, with the Yankees (87-75), New York would have been a tempting position for any GM. The Yankees may have limped into the playoffs only to lose in the wildcard matchup, but their team has a great deal of positives for next season. Everyone knows about the ‘evil empire’ and their great deal of cash to spend on a GM and any player whom said GM would want. The Yankees also have a great on-field manager in Joe Girardi, whom has done an excellent job squeezing as much out of the team’s aging veterans as he could. Match him up with a GM like Cherington who can convince big names to come to the team, while also being a proven executive who can re-evaluate the minor league system to improve its depth, in the U.S. and the international markets, and you could have an unstoppable force.
Sherman wrote that “the Yankees are going to name one of their most trusted scouts, Tim Naehring, as vice president of baseball operations to fill [Billy] Eppler’s role,” making it still possible that a GM could be hired later. This new trend of presidents being in charge, instead of general managers, makes the hierarchy more flexible at any given time for any team. If Cherington were to change his mind and want to get back into the professional baseball ranks, the Yankees could easily make room for the local man and his family.
What does this mean for the Red Sox? Maybe nothing. Maybe Cherington falls in love with his new teaching job and stays away from Fenway Park forever. Maybe the itch to manage the roster of the other most historic franchise in baseball will be too much for him to resist for longer than a year. Maybe Cherington and Girardi bring about a master plan that will crush the Red Sox and every other team in the American League for years to come.
Then again, maybe Cherington trades for Hanley Ramirez to play left field in Yankee Stadium.
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