There is only one way the Yankees fire Aaron Boone — and it has never happened before

Aug 16, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone (17) in the dugout before a game against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park.
Aug 16, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone (17) in the dugout before a game against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park. / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are playing out the string for the first time in decades, but it is not safe to assume that manager Aaron Boone will lose his job because of it.

In fact, there is only one way Boone will be fired, according to four sources with direct knowledge of the Yankees’ inner workings: managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner would have to overrule GM Brian Cashman and his baseball operations department. And that has never before happened with a managerial decision.

Steinbrenner himself is not currently responding to media inquiries, including for this story. He will not announce a final decision on Boone until the end of the season.

But if Steinbrenner does make a change, it would go against his entire history of following Cashman’s recommendations on managers. To date, there has been no chatter within Cashman’s baseball group about that happening.

“Boone is an asset, not part of the problem,” said one high-ranking Yankees official.

The Yankees are a deeply collaborative organization, from ownership to Cashman to scouting to analytics to the manager and coaching staff. Boone remains a vital part of the work that this group does together on a daily basis.

Therefore, firing Boone and replacing him with, say, Don Mattingly would call into question the Yankees’ program. You don’t just plug a different person into that key job unless you’re rethinking the entire organization.

After this year, which Cashman has labeled a “disaster,” plenty of Yankees fans are calling for just such a rethinking. That’s a topic for another column.

Here in the realm of facts, Cashman has been either GM or assistant GM through 30 consecutive winning seasons, and is in the first season of a four-year deal.

In other words, neither Cashman nor his program is going anywhere, unless he volunteers to step aside to save Steinbrenner from further “Fire Cashman” banners and tweets. And even if he did that, the guess here is that Steinbrenner would try to talk him out of it.

The longstanding trust between Steinbrenner and Cashman is marked by the former listening to the latter on coaching and managerial decisions.

Hal succeeded his father as the Yankees’ control person in Nov. 2008, after Joe Girardi’s first year as skipper. He approved Girardi extensions when Cashman recommended them, and then approved Cashman’s recommendation to move on from Girardi after the 2017 season, during which the GM and manager did not work as well together as they had in the past.

During the 2021 season, there were voices in Steinbrenner’s ear encouraging him to fire Boone and replace him with Buck Showalter, who was working for the YES Network at the time, according to team sources. Cashman wanted to stick with Boone, so the discussion never gained traction.

Events this July reinforced the Yankee power dynamic. Steinbrenner had been a fan of the hitting coach Dillon Lawson, at least during the 2022 season. But when Cashman recommended firing Lawson, Steinbrenner approved it. That the Yankees replaced him with Boone’s friend Sean Casey does not seem insignificant, either.

As the Yankees have tumbled into irrelevance, the clubhouse continues to largely support its manager. In a recent report in The Athletic, Aaron Judge, D.J. LeMahieu and others spoke highly of Boone.

“It’s not an easy job,” LeMahieu said in that story. “I think he handles it great. The players respect him. They enjoy playing for him, but they also respect him.”

Fans, too, appear to see that the Yankees’ failures in 2023 are not the result of in-game managerial moves. There seems to be far more public heat on Cashman than on Boone.

In order to return to winning next season, the Yankees will have to dramatically rethink many aspects of the roster. But, viewing Boone as part of the solution, the front office does not want to rethink the manager position.

The only way that will change is if Steinbrenner breaks precedent and forces Cashman into a move he does not recommend.