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History repeats itself for Yankees, and this time, it could cost them a playoff spot | Analysis

NJ.com logo NJ.com 9/10/2021 Mike Rosenstein, nj.com

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. That includes New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

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In 2017, an aging Justin Verlander was on the trade market. After all, the 34-year-old was just 10-8 and looked nothing like the guy who won the 2011 American League Cy Young Award and AL MVP. Plus the Detroit Tigers were nowhere close to contending for a title.

On the books for $28 million, Detroit decided to part with Verlander, trading him to the Houston Astros before the waiver deadline. All Verlander did was go 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA for the Astros and help Houston win the World Series. Two years later, Verlander took home his second Cy Young Award.

In 2021, an aging Max Scherzer was on the trade market. After all, the 37-year-old was slated to be a free agent after the season and there was little reason to believe he would re-sign with the Washington Nationals. Plus, DC didn’t look like the World Series contender it was just two years ago.

On the books for $27 million, the Nationals decided to part with Scherzer, trading him to the Los Angeles Dodgers before the July 30 deadline. All Scherzer has done is go 5-0 with a 1.05 ERA for the Dodgers, making him a strong candidate to win his fourth Cy Young Award.

In both cases, Cashman and the Yankees could have added a future Hall-of-Fame pitcher for the stretch run if they were willing to pay up in prospects and/or cash. In both cases, the Yankees said no.

In 2017, the Yankees ended up losing to Verlander and the Astros in the American League Championship Series.

In 2021, the Yankees are struggling just to qualify for the playoffs.

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Irony is, going out before the trade deadline and making a splash for a future Hall of Famer is exactly the kind of move George Steinbrenner would have dictated back in the day.

But the current front office, for whatever reason, decided to pass on Verlander and Scherzer. It cost them dearly in 2017. It could cost them dearly again this year, especially with recent injuries to Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon. You can never have too much pitching in baseball. But in retrospect, the Yankees relying on comebacks from Luis Severino, Corey Kluber and Domingo German rather than banking on a sure thing like Scherzer could be their undoing. Again.

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Brian Cashman knows that all too well.

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Mike Rosenstein may be reached at mrosenstein@njadvancemedia.com.

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