Yankees GM Brian Cashman apologized to Marcus Stroman, who says they laughed about 2019 remarks

NEW YORK (AP) — Brian Cashman apologized to Marcus Stroman over 2019 remarks by the Yankees general manager before New York negotiated a $37 million, two-year contract with the 32-year-old right-hander.

Cashman discussed trading for Stroman with Toronto before the Blue Jays dealt the pitcher to the New York Mets in July 2019.

“We were interested in Stroman but we didn’t think he would be a difference-maker,” Cashman told Yahoo Sports in 2019. “We felt he would be in our bullpen in the postseason.”

Cashman said he apologized at the time through Stroman’s agent and directly to Stroman during negotiations this offseason.

“I just said for the amount of talent they wanted back, it wasn’t going to be enough of a difference-maker,” Cashman said during a Zoom news conference Thursday. “That was my bad, because then how it played wasn’t certainly how it was intended.”

Stroman spoke with Cashman by phone during negotiations

“Me and Cashman kind of hashed out whatever it was that we had from a few years ago,” Stroman said during a Zoom call earlier Thursday. “We kind of laughed about it and we moved on.”

A two-time All-Star, Stroman missed six weeks last season with the Chicago Cubs because of inflammation in his right hip and then a rib cartilage fracture. He finished 10-9 with a 3.95 ERA that was his highest since 2018, leaving him 77-76 with a 3.65 ERA since making his big league debut in 2014.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone visited Stroman's home during the recruiting process, and Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rizzo and Anthony Volpe also spoke with the free agent.

“This is an ultimate competitor. This is someone that wants the big stage, wants the bright lights,” Cashman said. “There is a population of major league talent that does not want to play in the New York arena. It’s too hot. It’s too difficult. It’s too much. But that is not this player.”

Stroman has a reputation among some for having a contentious relationship with fans.

“I'd say I'm misunderstood, for sure,” he explained. “I think people will have a different view of me after my tenure here. I don’t think Cash, I don’t think Boonie, I don’t think Judge would want me to be a part if they didn’t know my character and how I was as a teammate.”

Stroman joins a rotation projected to include Cole, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, and Carlos Rodón, Nestor Cortes and Clarke Schmidt. Rodón and Cortes already are working out at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, Florida, following injury-shortened seasons.

“We do like what we have,” Cashman said of the rotation.

New York's other major moves this offseason included acquiring outfielders Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo and Trent Grisham.

“I think we’ve improved,” Cashman said. "I think our team was better than how it finished, regardless of last year."

He expects center fielder Jasson Domínguez will return from Tommy John surgery sometime in the summer and said Giancarlo Stanton has been working hard on conditioning and diet after hitting a career-worst .191 with 60 RBIs.

Cashman said doctors have told the team they expect Rizzo has recovered from the May 28 concussion that wrecked the first baseman's season.

“The doctors have told us he’s 100% clear. That the type of concussion he had once he’s passed, it will not return,” Cashman said.