NEW YORK -- Compared to last July, when general manager Brian Cashman told Hal Steinbrenner that his Yankees weren't good enough to win a title and should assume the unfamiliar role of Trade Deadline sellers, it was a breeze to convince the managing general partner that the 2017 roster deserved a chance to go for it.
"We're in the sprint now, the last two months of the season," Cashman said. "The marathon is winding down. It's time to sprint to the finish line, so we've done everything we possibly can to continue to excel."
Cashman said that the Yankees addressed a weakness by adding Gray and Garcia to the rotation while padding depth in other departments. The moves produced positive reactions in the home clubhouse, where players learned about the Gray trade shortly after 3 p.m. ET on Monday about an hour before the Deadline.
"Guys were fired up when they heard the news," Chase Headley said. "They obviously believe in us, and they're giving us what we need. It's up to us now, and it's exciting to know that we're going for it."
"To turn the clock back, that was difficult," Cashman said. "It was something that we hadn't done, and so it was somewhat new. At least we can check the box that we can sell and we can buy."
Last season, with Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez having departed, the average age of the roster was lowered considerably. Powered in large part by Gary Sanchez's historic home run surge, the Yanks still hung around in the division race.
"I know last year we were labeled as sellers, but as one of the guys that was still in this room competing every day, we were two or three games out on Sept. 10 last year," Brett Gardner said.
"Gary came up and kind of carried us," CC Sabathia said. "Two weeks later we were talking about winning the Wild Card and not rebuilding."
The rich stable of talent helped Cashman match up for trade opportunities when -- in manager Joe Girardi's view -- the current roster proved to ownership and the front office that it deserved an opportunity to push for more.
"Coming into this year, not really knowing where we were going to be at the Trade Deadline, to have them go out and add pieces makes a huge difference for us -- especially after last year," Sabathia said.
The Yankees first tried to pry Jose Quintana from the White Sox but stalled when they were unwilling to give up Clint Frazier or Torres. Chicago's familiarity with the system helped grease a July 18 trade in which the Yanks gave up just one top prospect, outfielder Blake Rutherford.
Garcia came from the Twins on Sunday for a pair of lesser-heralded pitching prospects, Dietrich Enns and Zack Littell, but the A's talks required higher tiers of talent. Though Cashman acknowledged it hurt to lose Dustin Fowler, James Kaprielian and Jorge Mateo, the Yankees also believe that they have a better chance at that elusive 28th title than they did 72 hours ago.
"It's a fun team to watch, so stay tuned, and let's see how it plays out," Cashman said. "They definitely have created some exciting moments. That's what our fans deserve."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.