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Here’s why the Yankees could sign (without penalty) a stud Cuban righty — December 30, 2015

Here’s why the Yankees could sign (without penalty) a stud Cuban righty

By Ryan Hatch

The Yankees already added one Cuban pitcher to their roster this winter. Could they include another?

New York went on a spending spree of international players last winter and thereby are restricted to signing any similar amateurs this year to only contracts of $300,000 or less.

So when MLB.com’s Jessee Sanchez broke the news via Twitter on Monday that Cuban right-hander Yaisel Sierra had become a free agent and was open to bidding by major league teams, it might figure the Yankees would nod, and move along.

Not so fast.

Because Sierra is 24 years old, he is past the age requirement that would place him in the restricted pool. (It’s 23.) That means, of course, the Yankees could sign him to whatever deal they so well please without penalty. New York has maintained all winter they’re trying to shed payroll by not adding any free agents and that will probably hold steady. (The addition of Aroldis Chapman on Monday adds payroll, but it was, from a baseball standpoint, too good of a deal to pass up.)

But starting pitching is a rare commodity for any team and if the Yankees could sign him for his expected rate ($25-$30 million over several years), would it be such a bad deal?

Sierra has been throwing for scouts and executives all fall—in one case, 350 of them, Sanchez reported—and while it’s unconfirmed the Yankees were in attendance, one has to believe they were at least in some capacity.

Sierra has been projected by some scouts to be a middle of the rotation pitcher who could help a team immediately. That, perhaps, is his biggest value—time spent in the minors would likely be minimal.

Here’s what Baseball America wrote in April when he was rated as their No. 13 prospect on the island:

He vacillated between starting and relieving while pitching for Holguin in Serie Nacional, moving to the bullpen full-time in 2014-15, when he posted a 6.10 ERA with 55 strikeouts and 31 walks over 70 innings.

Across his entire professional career in Cuba he’s struck out 221 batters in 300.0 innings.

Signing him would be a bit of a gamble, but what international prospect isn’t? Here’s guessing the Yankees won’t make a bid for him. But don’t be shocked either if they’re on the shortlist of teams bidding for his services.


Cashman: “There are some serious issues here that are in play” — December 29, 2015

Cashman: “There are some serious issues here that are in play”

By Chad Jennings

Aroldis Chapman
FILE – In this Monday, Sept. 7, 2015 file photo, Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman prepares to throw in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Cincinnati. The New York Yankees bolstered an already dominant bullpen Monday, Dec. 28, 2015 acquiring hard-throwing All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds for four minor leaguers. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Yankees bolstered an already dominant bullpen Monday, acquiring hard-throwing All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds for four minor leaguers.

Chapman became available after the Reds’ deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers fell through during baseball’s winter meetings three weeks ago when it was learned Florida police investigated an accusation of domestic violence involving the Cuban left-hander.

Major League Baseball is currently investigating and Chapman could face suspension under the league’s new domestic violence policy.

“We felt this was an opportunity to add a big arm to our bullpen, even though there are some things that are unresolved,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a conference call. “And we will respect that process as it plays out.”

Cashman said the Yankees have had interest in Chapman for several years, but a deal only became affordable when the price for the reliever dropped after the report was made public.

JagieloDavisNew York was able to protect its top minor leaguers in the deal, sending right-handers Caleb Cotham and Rookie Davis and infielders Eric Jagielo and Tony Renda to Cincinnati. Jagielo was New York’s No. 1 pick in 2013 (26th overall).

The Yankees will have to wait to set up their enviable bullpen of Chapman, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances until the investigation is done.

MLB has indicated it will take as long as it needs to thoroughly vet the matter. The league is also investigating domestic violence incidents involving Colorado’s Jose Reyes and the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig.

Davie, Florida, police said there was “insufficient evidence” to charge Chapman in the disturbance between the pitcher and his girlfriend at his South Florida home. The Davie Police Department report listed the Oct. 30 matter as closed.

But after the report’s release earlier in the month, state prosecutors said they were examining the possibility of criminal charges.

“Certainly there are some serious issues here that are in play,” Cashman said. “I acknowledge that’s an area clearly of concern and I think it certainly is reflective of some of the acquisition price and there’s risk, and I understand that.”

Andrew MillerChapman gives the Yankees the top three relievers by strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings in the majors. Miller had 36 saves in his first year with New York and Betances made his second straight All-Star team as the setup man.

There was talk earlier in the offseason that the Yankees were looking to possibly move Miller for a starting pitcher, but Cashman is intent on keeping all three relievers as a “real force at the back of our bullpen.”

“I’m sure we’ll get a lot of interesting calls between now and whenever,” Cashman said of potential trade offers.

Miller is entering the second year of a four-year, $36 million deal.

A 27-year-old left-hander, Chapman is eligible for free agency after next year’s World Series. But that could be pushed back until after the 2017 season if he is suspended by MLB without pay for more than 45 days, giving the Yankees an extra year of control over one of baseball’s best relievers.

After defecting from Cuba in 2009, Chapman spent the past six seasons with the Reds and saved 146 games in 164 chances. He had a 1.63 ERA this year, when he struck out 116 in 66 1-3 innings. Betances struck out a league-best 131 and Miller fanned 100.

Chapman threw the 62 fastest pitches in the big leagues this year, ranging from 103.92 mph to 102.36 mph, according to MLB’s Statcast computer system.

He was an All-Star in each of the past four seasons, and Chapman, who is arbitration eligible, is certain to earn a big payday this offseason.

With the Reds undergoing a major retooling after a 98-loss season, Chapman joined Cincinnati stars Johnny Cueto, Todd Frazier and Mike Leake who have all been dealt since July. The club also appears to be looking to move Brandon Phillips.

Yankees get elite closer Aroldis Chapman from Cincinnati Reds — December 28, 2015

Yankees get elite closer Aroldis Chapman from Cincinnati Reds


The Yankees have reportedly made a deal to acquired Reds closer Aroldis Chapman

By Brendan Kuty

The Yankees have completed a deal with the Cincinnati Reds that has landed elite but controversial closer Aroldis Chapman in the Bronx.

The deal would give, at least for now, a bullpen back-end trio of Chapman and another pair of big-time arms — closer Andrew Miller and set-up man Dellin Betances.

Chapman will receive from the Yankees righty pitchers Caleb Cotham and Rookie Davis and infielders Eric Jagielo and Tony Renda. None four of the players the Yankees packaged to Cincinnati are considered elite prospects, though Jagielo was a first-round pick in 2013.

Chapman, 27, is the game’s hardest thrower. His fastball averaged 100.43 MPH in 2015, according to Brooks Baseball. The Cuba native earned 33 saves with a 1.63 ERA in 65 games last season. He’s a four-time All-Star who will be eligible for free agency in 2017 and is projected to make about $13 million in 2016 due to salary arbitration.

it’s likely under the current construction of the Yankees’ bullpen that Chapman would slot in as the club’s new closer, supplanting Miller, who saved 36 games while sustaining a 2.04 ERA. It was his first season as a closer. The Yankees gave him a four-year, $36-million deal just before the 2015 season. Miller has been the subject of constant trade rumors this offseason.

Betances, 27, was an All-Star for the season straight season last year. He had a 1.50 ERA in 84 innings.

The Dodgers had reportedly nearly completed a deal for Chapman earlier in the offseason until news leaked that he allegedly choked his girlfriend and fired several shots from a gun in his garage, prompting a police response.

The move likely signals that the Yankees don’t believe the reported incident will be much of a problem for Chapman next season.

Yanks should explore extending Pineda and Eovaldi given price of pitching, upcoming free agent classes —

Yanks should explore extending Pineda and Eovaldi given price of pitching, upcoming free agent classes

By Mike Axisa


All throughout the offseason, we’ve heard the Yankees are looking for controllable young pitching because aside from Luis Severino, all of their current starters can become free agents within two years. Ivan Nova will qualify for free agency after 2016 while CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda, and Masahiro Tanaka will do the same after 2017. (Tanaka can opt-out of his deal following 2017.)

While the Yankees do have some starting pitching prospects who figure to contribute at the MLB level come 2018 — James Kaprielian and Rookie Davis, most notably — they’ll need more arms. No doubt about it. Looking for young pitching now makes sense. The problem? It’s crazy expensive. Just look at what it took to get Shelby Miller. That package may be something of an outlier, but the point stands. Pitching is expensive.

The upcoming free agent classes don’t offer much help either. Stephen Strasburg will be the best free agent starter next offseason, and the second best is probably Brett Anderson. Francisco Liriano, Alex Cobb, and Clay Buchholz headline the 2017-18 free agent pitching class. Like I’ve been saying, this offseason’s free agent class was the best in years, and that means going forward too.

Given the cost of pitching and the lack of high-end starters in upcoming free agent classes, the Yankees’ best option for controllable pitching behind 2017 might be the guys already on the roster, specifically Eovaldi and Pineda. They’re still in their mid-20s — Pineda turns 27 in January and Eovaldi turns 26 in February — and both have had flashes of success in New York.

At the same time, both Pineda and Eovaldi have been pretty inconsistent in recent years, and both guys have a major arm injury in their history. Eovaldi had Tommy John surgery eight years ago and Pineda had surgery to repair a torn labrum in 2012. Both guys missed time with injuries this past season too — Eovaldi’s season ended in mid-September due to elbow inflammation and Pineda missed a month with a forearm strain.

The injury history and inconsistency are obvious red flags, though they also potentially help keep contract extension prices down. It’s a classic risk vs. reward situation. Eovaldi and Pineda are reasonably young and have the tools to be very successful, but there are enough red flags to justify going year-to-year contractually. I can understand both sides of the argument, extending them or going year-to-year.

Not many pitchers have signed extensions with four years of service time in recent years. Jordan Zimmermann took a two-year deal during the 2013-14 offseason that didn’t delay free agency — it only gave the Nationals cost certainty over his remaining two arbitration years. The last multi-year deal that bought out free agent years for a pitcher at this service time level was Matt Harrison’s five-year, $55M deal in January 2013.

Ideally, I think an extension for Pineda and/or Eovaldi would cover four years, so their final two arbitration years plus two free agent years. An option or two would be cool as well. The Yankees would get control of both through 2019 and the two pitchers would hit free agency at 29-30, an age where they could still land a big free agent deal. MLBTR projects Eovaldi for $5.7M through arbitration next year and Pineda for $4.6M. Using that as a starting point, how’s this for potential framework?

2016 (Arb. Year) $5.5M $4.5M
2017 (Arb. Year) $7.5M $7M
2018 (FA Year) $13M $13M
2019 (FA Year) $15M $15M
2020 (Option) $17M ($1M buyout) $17M ($1M buyout)
Total Guarantee $42M + option $40.5M + option

I just spitballed some numbers and looking them over, they seem too low. Wouldn’t you give Pineda and Eovaldi four years and $40M or so guaranteed right now given the current market? Mike Leake got five years and $75M. Jeff Samardzija got five years and $90M. Eovaldi’s currently scheduled to hit free agency at age 27 and Pineda will be 28. The market generally rewards youth, as long as they stay reasonably healthy and effective.

At the same time, I’m not sure how much higher the Yankees should go given their injury issues. Neither Pineda nor Eovaldi received large signing bonuses as amateurs — Pineda signed for $35,000 out of the Dominican Republic and Eovaldi got $250,000 as an 11th round pick — but they made $2.1M and $3.3M through arbitration in 2015, respectively. They have some financial security and may not jump at an extension.

Either way, the point isn’t the Yankees absolutely should sign Pineda or Eovaldi to a contract extension. It’s that they should at least explore the possibility and see what the other side has in mind. Perhaps both players ask for too much and that’s that, no deal can be worked out. It might have already happened for all we know. On the other hand, if the Yankees haven’t checked in, one or both might be more open to an extension than they realize.

The Yankees aren’t stupid. They know more about Pineda and Eovaldi than we ever will and it’s possible they have concerns about their health and effectiveness, and aren’t willing to assume the long-term risk. Extending both players is just one idea to give the Yankees some controllable starters beyond 2017. The trade market seems crazy and free agency doesn’t offer much help. Paying Pineda and/or Eovaldi might be the best way for the Yankees to get the pitching they need.

Cubs release former Yankees infielder Brendan Ryan — December 24, 2015

Cubs release former Yankees infielder Brendan Ryan

By Chad Jennings

Brendan Ryan
New York Yankees’ Brendan Ryan fields a ground out by Texas Rangers’ Rougned Odor in the fifth inning of a baseball game Monday,July 27, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Just a few days after officially adding him to their roster, the Cubs have released utility infielder Brendan Ryan.

Included in this month’s Starlin Castro trade as the player to be named later, Ryan never actually played for the Cubs and was only a member of their 40-man roster for a few days before the team claimed left-handed pitcher Edgar Olmos. That means the Cubs are on the hook for Ryan’s $1-million contract.

The fact he was released almost immediately after the trade was finalized suggests he was included primarily as a financial offset.

Because he’s a proven defender who can play multiple positions, there could be a market for Ryan somewhere. He played so rarely with the Yankees, that I can’t imagine he would want to re-join them on a minor league deal, and the Yankees don’t have a great need for him now that they’ve signed Pete Kozma, who can play a similar role.

Is lefty James Pazos the Yankees’ 7th inning answer in 2016? — December 12, 2015

Is lefty James Pazos the Yankees’ 7th inning answer in 2016?

James Pazos

James Pazos of the New York Yankees pitches in the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on September 13, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees defeated the Blue Jays 5 – 0

By Ryan Hatch

The Yankees rid themselves of left-handed reliever Justin Wilson on Wednesday, bringing in two minor league starters from the Detroit Tigers.

General manager Brian Cashman said part of the reason was Wilson was entering his “money making” years, though he was only due a raise of about $1.5 million in 2016.

Wilson was 5-0 last year, allowing just three home runs over 61.0 relief innings that resulted in a 3.10 ERA. By season’s end he had solidified himself as the manager Joe Girardi’s go-to guy in the seventh inning, ahead of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller.

But, of course, he’s now gone, and someone else will have to fill that void. There are a handful of candidates: Jacob Lindgren, Chasen Shreve, Branden Pinder, Nick Rumbelow, and Nick Goody are among the group.

But so too is James Pazos, a September call-up in 2015 who threw just five innings but only allowed three hits in his stint with the club. Pazos, a hard-throwing lefty, has maybe the best chance to become a key piece of the Yankees’ bullpen next season. This year near the trade deadline owner Hal Steinbrenner included Pazos in the “untouchable” pile. When New York had to select its 25-man roster for the postseason, Pazos was included.

So, who is Pazos? Here’s a closer look:

Vitals: 24 years old; 6-foot-3, 230 pounds; throws lefty

Background: Drafted in the 13th round of the 2012 draft out of the University of San Diego by the Yankees. Pazos had been taken in the 40th round by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009 after high school, but opted for college instead.

Debuted Sept. 5, 2015 with the Yankees against the Rays. He will be a free agent in 2022.

Minor league stats: In four seasons across all minor league levels, Pazos owns a 2.29 ERA (184.1 innings). Perhaps most impressively he’s only allowed four home runs. He averages a good 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings rate and last year walked just 15 batters.

His ERA has improved every year the last three seasons: 2013’s was 3.93, 2014’s was 2.42, and 2015’s was 1.27.

Pitches: According to Fangraphs, in the five innings he spent in the bigs, Pazos threw two pitches: fastball and slider. He tossed the fastball 82.6% of the time and the slider 17.4% of the time. His fastball averaged 93.8 mph.

2016 Projections: Last week we detailed the Yankees’ bullpen projections for 2016 according to Baseballreference.com. Pazos is projected to throw 27.0 innings next year with an ERA of 3.67. The Yankees, of course, would like to see that first number rise and the second fall.

But if New York could get comparable numbers to Wilson—61.0, 3.10 ERA—they’d probably take it. Pazos threw 67.0 innings in 2014 so a similar workload to Wilson’s is a reasonable task.


Cashman hints at bullpen follow-up as Wilson trade is questioned — December 11, 2015

Cashman hints at bullpen follow-up as Wilson trade is questioned

George A. King III

Justin Wilson...

NASHVILLE, TENN. — Brian Cashman arrived Sunday at the Winter Meetings looking to upgrade the Yankees at second base and did by adding Starlin Castro.

When the general manager split Thursday, he wanted to fill two holes in the bullpen he created and still was hunting for young, controllable starting pitching ready to help in the big leagues.

The Yankees bullpen lost right-hander Adam Warren in the Castro deal Tuesday night, and sent lefty Justin Wilson to the Tigers on Wednesday evening for minor league right-handers Chad Green and Luis Cessa, who have never pitched in the big league and are ticketed for Triple-A as starters.

“My intention is to do more,’’ Cashman said of the bullpen. “Between now and April we will have more opportunities.’’

Having added Castro and outfielder Aaron Hicks via trade and subtracted Warren and Wilson, Cashman joked that hitting coach Alan Cockrell “is loving me’’ and pitching coach Larry Rothschild “is not liking me.’’

More than one talent evaluator wondered why Cashman would trade the 28-year-old Wilson, who was 5-0 with a 3.10 ERA while allowing 49 hits and striking out 66 in 61 innings pitching in front of Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances.

After making the deal, Cashman said Wilson, who is arbitration-eligible, was under control for three years and entering “his money-making years.’’ However, he was likely to work this coming season for $1.5 million.

Cashman also explained he needed to add starting pitching depth at the top minor league level because it was an area of weakness and he liked Green and Cessa having a combined 12 years of control.

Though there is a chance that Green, who turns 25 in May, and Cessa, who turns 24 in April, could shift to the bullpen, they aren’t in play at this point to help the 2016 big league bullpen.

Though the Yankees remain high on Jacob Lindgren, James Pazos, Branden Pinder and Nick Rumbelow, Cashman admitted it would have been nice if they had pitched better in small sample sizes last season.

“The young guys didn’t show their full capability,’’ Cashman said. “We didn’t have a chance to see Lindgren [elbow bone spur surgery]. We will see if we can add more.’’

Pazos, who appeared in 11 big league games and didn’t allow a run in five innings after Hal Steinbrenner included him in the list of untouchables before the July 31 trade deadline, appears to have the best chance of breaking into the pen in 2016.

Taken in the 13th round of the 2011 draft out of the University of San Diego, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound lefty excelled at Double-A and Triple-A this past season. In 27 minor league games, Pazos worked 42 2/3 innings, posted a 0.84 ERA, allowed 29 hits and whiffed 37.

As long as he is looking to add bullpen pieces, it’s hard to believe Cashman will be seduced into dealing Miller for a young starter. It wouldn’t make sense for Cashman to send two-thirds of last season’s strongest unit away.

“I wouldn’t say I was close, I would say very active,’’ Cashman said of making a deal. “There is a lot of time on the clock between now and Opening Day.’’

Cashman then repeated a saying he has used often since the end of the season.

“I am ready for the right wave to come. If it doesn’t come, paddle back to the beach,’’ Cashman said. “It’s still incomplete, still addressing areas of need. There are still steps in the process I would like to take.’’

The Yankees lost left-handed-hitting outfielder Jake Cave to the Reds and lefty reliever Evan Rutckyj to the Braves in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft. Cave was the second pick and Rutckyj the third.

The Yankees had one spot open on the 40-man roster, but didn’t make a pick.

Cave, 23, batted .269 with a .330 on-base percentage in 125 games for Double-A Trenton and played in seven games for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Rutckyj pitched in 36 combined games for Trenton and Single-A Tampa. He struck out 82 in 61 2/3 innings and allowed 57 hits.

Yankees’ Andrew Miller says he doesn’t want to be traded — December 10, 2015

Yankees’ Andrew Miller says he doesn’t want to be traded

andrew   ,miller

New York Yankees’ Andrew Miller delivers a pitch during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. The Yankees defeated the White Sox 3-2.

By Ryan Hatch

Yankees‘ closer Andrew Miller, rumored to be on the move for a month, told the Associated Press Thursday from Clearwater, Florida, that he does not want to be traded from New York.

Players “all want stability” Miller told the AP, also mentioning how he has zero influence on whether he’s traded or not.

MORE: Cashman still active in trade talks

The Yankees are rumored to want a big league-ready starting pitcher for Miller, one they may not be able to find. It was widely reported the Houston Astros and Yankees had discussed a swap, but Houston recently landed closer Ken Giles from the Phillies, all but shutting down talks.

Miller saves 36 of 38 games last year and finished the season, his first ever as a closer, with a 2.04 ERA.

Miller is signed for three more years with the Yankees and owed $27 million. If he were to leave, eighth-inning man Dellin Betances would likely slide into the closer’s role.

Yankees trade reliever Justin Wilson to Detroit Tigers for 2 prospects —

Yankees trade reliever Justin Wilson to Detroit Tigers for 2 prospects

Justin Wilson

New York Yankees pitcher Justin Wilson (41) delivers a pitch during the sixth inning of the game against the Toronto Blue Jaysat Yankee Stadium.

By Ryan Hatch

Reports surfaced from the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday that the Yankeeswere shopping left-handed reliever Justin Wilson to the Detroit Tigers.

Wednesday evening it reportedly came to fruition. New York, according to multiple reports, traded Wilson to Detroit for two prospects—RHPs Luis Cessna and Chad Green.

Wilson, 28, threw 61.0 innings last season, his first in the Bronx after coming over from the Pittsburgh Pirates last offseason. He had a 3.10 ERA and by season’s end had settled in as the team’s seventh inning guy, setting up Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller.

The trade might indicate the Yankees will hang on to Miller after flirting with shipping him out of town for the last month. General manager Brian Cashman said Wednesday he bets Miller will still be on the team next Opening Day.

It’s possible the Yankees use Cessna and Green for another trade package.

Among other pitcher the Yankees currently control who could fill Wilson’s void are Chasen Shreve or Jacob Lindgren, both lefties. Shreve had a great five months in 2015 and then one horrible one, while Lindgren showed flashes of brilliance in his brief time with the club before undergoing elbow surgery that ended his season.


Yankees’ Luis Severino to Miami Marlins? Brian Cashman’s harsh words for rumor — December 9, 2015

Yankees’ Luis Severino to Miami Marlins? Brian Cashman’s harsh words for rumor

Luis Severino

BABY STEPS | Severino, 18, went to the Yankees’ Dominican Summer League teams, where he put up respectable numbers. But nothing necessarily jumped out about the unheralded prospect.

By Brendan Kuty

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Yankees general manager Brian Cashman hinted that he contacted the Miami Marlins regarding a trade for their 23-year-old ace, Jose Fernandez.

But he didn’t mince words when it came to how he felt regarding a report that the Yankees were willing to trade their own promising young starter, Luis Severino.

“Somebody’s lying. Tis the season, right?” Cashman said in a suite at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, the site of the 2015 Winter Meetings.

Cashman wouldn’t flat-out say he talked to Miami about Fernandez, who’s believed to be available but only for a ridiculously high asking price. Fernandez is considered one of the game’s best pitchers and could win a few Cy Youngs before he retires, despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014.

“I wouldn’t say. It’s not fair,” Cashman said. “But it’s pretty easy to speculate. Under the control of what we’re trying to accomplish: Getting younger, cheap. If it checks off a lot of the boxes, you can assume that we checked off on it. If it’s old and expensive, we likely didn’t check in on that.”

But as for talk that he’d part with Severino, the pitcher who debuted in August and sparked the Yankees’ playoff run? Nope.

Cashman added that he doesn’t believe he’ll deal any of his top prospects, too.

“But I doubt that you would see anything ever here in the near-term happen on those three guys you’re talking about, which is (first baseman Greg) Bird, (staring pitcher Luis) Severino, (and right fielder Aaron) Judge. And we have not offered those players in any deal, if that’s what you’re asking,” Cashman said.