The Yankees hired Eric Chavez knowing full well he might never make it to spring training with them.
General manager Brian Cashman, speaking Wednesday at a Zoom news conference to announce the historic hiring of Rachel Balkovec as manager of their Low-A Tampa Tarpons, said Chavez’s decision to leave the Yankees, who had hired him as assistant hitting coach, to become the Mets’ top hitting coach didn’t catch the team by surprise, nor did Cashman find it upsetting to lose Chavez to the Yankees’ crosstown rival.
“When we hired Eric, Eric and I had conversations about opportunities that could exist moving forward,” Cashman said. “Selfishly, we hoped they didn’t present themselves in the near term, but there were jobs open in Oakland as well as the Mets that were just getting secure. … He has ties with those organizations.”
Chavez spent the bulk of his career with the A’s and knows Billy Beane, their longtime head of baseball operations, as well as new manager Mark Kotsay, a teammate in Oakland. And he has a relationship with new Mets general manager Billy Eppler from their time together with both the Yankees and Angels.
“We talked through those options as well as, there’s a directive from Major League Baseball,” Cashman said. “[When there are] opportunities of a higher standing, they want you to provide that upward mobility for the diversity initiatives.” Chavez’s father was born in Mexico. Hence when Eppler’s Mets came calling, Cashman honored both his word to Chavez and Rob Manfred’s mandate.
Cashman said the Yankees are “putting together a candidate list” for Chavez’s replacement and haven’t started interviewing. The new person, Cashman added, need not be a former major league player like Chavez.
As for shortstop Anthony Volpe, who enjoyed a breakout 2021 at Class A, “There’s always the next challenge and the next level and that next level for him is to go to Double-A and hopefully get to have that type of success,” Yankees vice president of player development Kevin Reese said. “Just continuing on that path, work with our hitting staff, our defensive staff, and hopefully make an impact in the big leagues soon.”
Reese himself received a promotion. He had previously been the club’s senior director of player development. Said Cashman: “I think Kevin’s exceptional at what he does. … He’s a really smart, talented, thoughtful person.”