NEW YORK -- The Yankees made a conscious decision at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline to look toward the future and let the present play out the best way it could.
Instead of going for the quick fix that might have catapulted them beyond Tuesday night's 3-0 loss to the Astros in the American League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser, the Yanks opted to keep their young players.
"I think the organization made the right decision not giving up, whatever you want to call them -- your top prospects, your blue-chip prospects -- just for a two-month rental," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said on Friday in his return to Yankee Stadium to wrap up the season with the media.
"It might have been different if you were going to have one of those guys over the next five to seven years, and you knew you were going to keep them."
The topic has been a point of contention among Yankees fans and even some of the players, who wondered why general manager Brian Cashman didn't get a front-line starter or right-handed bat to help the club.
The end result was one-and-done 2015 postseason run, but a somewhat brighter '16 season.
And this is what Cashman had say about it: "No, I don't have any regrets."
Instead, the two most obvious pitchers -- David Price and Johnny Cueto -- went from the Tigers to Blue Jays and the Reds to the Royals, respectively. The Blue Jays made a plethora of moves other than Price and wiped out a seven-game Yankees lead to easily win the AL East. The defending AL Champion Royals sailed on to take the AL Central. Both teams have their hands full in the AL Division Series.
Those highly sought-after Yankees blue chips -- Luis Severino, Greg Bird and Rob Refsnyder -- had a chance to play valuable roles down the stretch and gain a ton of experience heading into next season.
"When you look at the contributions they made, I think we made the right moves," Girardi said. "I know a David Price did extremely well in his 10-12 starts over there. I know Johnny Cueto had some struggles over there. But when I look at Severino's body of work, I think we're all pretty pleased with what we saw and we're glad we kept him. When we look at Bird's body of work, I [also] think we're pretty pleased and glad we kept him."
Price was 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 11 starts after the trade and allowed five runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts in Thursday night's Game 1 loss to the Rangers. Cueto was 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA in 13 starts for Kansas City.
Both will be free agents this coming November and are unlikely to return to their current clubs.
Whether either Price or Cueto would have had the desired impact on the Yankees the last two months of the season cannot be answered. The above stats are non-transferable. There are too many variables.
All we know is that Cashman opted not to make the moves and protect his kids, breaking from a long Yankees tradition of doing the opposite. Instead, he made a deal with the Mariners to acquire the versatile Dustin Ackley, who after an initial stint on the disabled list because of a bad back, actually won a few games for the Yankees.
Then when the injuries hit to Mark Teixeira and almost the entire Yankees starting rotation in the last month, there was nowhere left to go for help.
Cashman said in the wake of Tuesday night's loss that he was content with the decision to stand pat at the Deadline.
"I didn't have any place to put anybody," Cashman said. "We tried to make some deals. [The outfield was full]. The only second baseman we explored was [Ben] Zobrist. He got traded to Kansas City, and it was going to cost me a [Adam] Warren and a Refsnyder. I decided not do that for a rental.
"Tex was healthy at the time. We had Severino coming. We tried to improve the bullpen. We made some significant offers that were turned down. And then unfortunately after the Trade Deadline and 75 percent of the population of quality players got taken off the boards, all the injuries started to hit. There was nowhere to run aside from Scranton to try to plug those holes."
And there you have it. There was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide as the Yankees lost seven of their last eight in the final week, including the AL Wild Card Game.
Whether the prospects continue to evolve is a question to be answered in the not-too-distant future.