Brian Cashman wasn’t exactly caught off guard when the Padres landed Juan Soto, the MLB trade deadline’s biggest prize.
He seemed even less surprised that his Yankees weren’t really in the running to land the 23-year-old superstar.
“Nothing coming out of the Washington operation suggested that his best match was coming our way,” Cashman said on “Carton & Roberts” on Thursday. “I would take that as last year when [Max] Scherzer and [Trea] Turner got dealt to the Dodgers … [Natioanls GM Mike] Rizzo is a former scouting director and there are things he wants and will gravitate to, and his eyes and heart were set on other locations.
“San Diego or St. Louis were the likeliest spots I think, and we were able to determine we weren’t as much of a match for them as other places,” Cashman said. “That’s what all the noise was about and there was no surprise when he landed in San Diego.”
The Yankees, along with the Mets, were among the many early suitors for Soto.
Cashman was involved in talks for Angels slugger/pitcher Shohei Ohtani as well, according to The Post’s Jon Heyman, though no deal materialized for the historic player.
“I can’t answer that directly, but I engaged 29 teams at all levels for what was in play, and even some guys who may not have been in play,” Cashman said. “That’s the nature of the beast. Ultimately, we made a lot of moves with the belief we improved our roster. There are so many conversations and failed efforts on a lot of platforms.”
In the end, the Yankees did not match the Padres’ offer of C.J. Abrams, MacKenzie Gore, Robert Hassell III, James Wood and Jarlin Susana for a package of Soto and first baseman Josh Bell. Cashman escaped the trade deadline without dealing any of the organization’s top prospects in Anthony Volpe, Jasson Dominguez, Austin Wells, Trey Sweeney and Oswald Peraza.
Despite not landing Soto or Ohtani, the Yankees GM did upgrade his roster, adding starter Frankie Montas, relievers Scott Effross and Lou Trivino, outfielders Andrew Benintendi and Harrison Bader and, notably, trading away struggling slugger Joey Gallo in the process.
“Obviously, it’s the last chance to do what you could to improve the club and attack areas of weakness,” Cashman said. “Clearly we had some areas that started to creep up on us, like with devastating injuries to our bullpen. That started to create a lot more pressure on some guys, so our bullpen took on a radically different look.
“Approaching the deadline, we’re trying to improve upon choices for our manager, and you want to make sure you have legit choices. With the rotation, very few high-end starters got moved, and we wanted to get our hands on one of them. And then trying to relocate Joey Gallo, who just wasn’t working here, and replacing him with an alternative, which was Andrew Benintendi.”