"That was the whole purpose of [former Commissioner] Bud Selig's effort, which was to level the playing field. And it's been accomplished," Cashman said with a shrug. "There is parity.
"The next great 'whatever' that becomes available, although it constantly gets written that the Yankees are on him, that narrative is not accurate. It is not because of our ownership change, because George Steinbrenner is no longer with us. It's because of the rules and the guidelines of the game have changed. There are a lot of restrictions that have changed the dynamic. We're not afraid of it."
The General Managers Meetings are the unofficial starting point for trade discussions, and Cashman made it clear that everything is on the table.
"At the end of the day, I am legitimately really open to any idea," he said. "I've had a lot of bad ones, either thrown by me or on the receiving end from somebody else to me. But that's what we're here for, to throw a lot of [stuff] out there and see what sticks."
At the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Yankees were adamant about not trading such top prospects as Greg Bird, Luis Severino, Aaron Judge and Jorge Mateo in exchange for short-term fixes. Now, if the right opportunity presents itself, Cashman will consider anything.
"I don't have any untouchables," he said -- although, as the saying goes, some are more touchable than others.
There has been a lot of interest in several prospects, Cashman said.
"There's no doubt that we're deep on the left-hander side," he said. "We're deep on the catching side. Certainly, the industry has recognized that and is bothering the heck out of me about that. That's where, when you have an area of depth, people are going to try to target it. Or we can try to trade from it if we can find any matches."
At the same time, he isn't anxious to raid the organizational depth that's been created. First baseman Bird, for example, could spend the whole year at Triple-A if Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez stay healthy in 2016, even though Bird hit 11 homers with 31 RBIs and an .871 OPS in 46 games after Teixeira went on the disabled list.
"It's good for us," Cashman said. "Not for Bird, but that would be the best [for the team], because currently he's blocked by some pretty significant players. It creates a great dynamic."
Cashman would like to bring back free-agent outfielder Chris Young, who has been a valuable role player the last two seasons, but he doesn't know if that will be possible.
"He did a tremendous job. Would we like to have him back? Of course. You couldn't ask him to be any better in the clubhouse or on the performance side," Cashman said. "But he's a free agent. He can play left, center, right. He crushes left-handers, and he's a solid citizen. So there will be some activity on him. We'll see where we sit on it when all is said and done. And he looks like Denzel Washington. So I can't throw enough bouquets his way. He was a special guy, and we'd like to have him back. But I have no idea if that will work out or not."
Although Cashman said the Yankees wouldn't necessarily have to move a big contract to add one, he hinted that the franchise is not likely to go in that direction.
"There are a lot of different ways to try to find higher ground," he said. "Every year your choices of how you go about things are different. You just look at the landscape and determine which path you're going to take that year. There are certain paths that might be blocked that year, so you try to find a different way, that's all.
"We still put a team [last season] that, for a period of time, people really thought had a chance to win the whole thing. And we got to the playoffs and got knocked out. But I think up through July, people thought we had a chance to do something really special and run the table. Or at least compete for that. But we stopped hitting and got hurt."
Still, after a two-year absence, the Yankees made the postseason before being knocked out by the Astros in the American League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser. Now Cashman is trying to upgrade the roster to get his team deeper into the postseason or even to win it all.
And, as he made clear on Tuesday, he'll consider every option to try to reach that goal.