It has looked for the past few weeks like the Yankees’ rotation would likely not be bolstered by the addition of a #2 starter this offseason. Of course, like many other optimistic Yankees fans I held out hope that Brian Cashman would pull a rabbit out of his hat and the Yankees would, once again, dominate the offseason water-cooler chatter. But I’m here to tell you that I’m finally throwing in the towel and coming to conclusion that acquiring a pitcher just isn’t in the cards this year. The reason I say this is because, in my opinion, there are really only three viable pitching candidates available that the Yankees might attain: Hiroki Kuroda, Matt Garza, and Edwin Jackson. And I believe that none of these men will end up in the Bronx.
There’s never been much hope that Kuroda would actually wind up in pinstripes. At 36 years old, Kuroda is getting right up there in age but is still performing at a high level. In 2011 he recorded personal bests in ERA (3.07), innings pitched (202.0), and strikeouts (161). For the right price on a one-year deal he would be a solid addition to the rotation, but it is widely known that he has enjoyed his time in LA and would greatly prefer to stay there. So the chances of him heading to the East Coast are slim to none.
Much like the White Sox with John Danks, the Cubs are asking for a lot for Garza. As our friends over at Cubbies Crib point out, Garza is under team control for the 2012 and 2013 seasons, and it must not be forgotten that the Cubs gave up four of their Top-20 prospects to land Garza in the first place. Now it is being reported that the Cubs want at least 2 of the Yankees’ top 3 prospects – Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances. The Yankees have made clear that for the right price they would be willing to move Montero, but sending Banuelos or Betances with him is a pretty steep price to pay. It has been widely assumed that Nick Swisher would be trade bait since the moment the Yankees exercised his option, so if the Cubs’ asking price comes down there is a chance he could be part of a package that consists of only one of the prospects listed above. Of course, the Cubs will likely be looking for a highly touted pitching prospect, and in that case Betances, Banuelos, or even Hector Noesi, who has put in some strong performances in winter ball, would be logical candidates to include in a deal. Personally, if any of the pitching prospects are dealt I’d rather it be Betances, as I very much like what I have seen from Noesi and I think Banuelos will end up developing more successfully and at a quicker pace than Betances. At the end of the day, though, I don’t think a deal bringing Garza to New York will get done because, as Joel Sherman points out, the Yankees were far more interested in Gio Gonzalez and were still unwilling to give up these prospects to land him.
And then there is Edwin Jackson. He is a workhorse, but an inconsistent one. In his career he has a 60-60 record and in the last three seasons he has averaged 210+ innings pitched with an average of 6.4 IP per start. At 28 years old Jackson is just entering his prime, so it is no surprise that agent Scott Boras is looking for a 5 year/$75M deal. I’m standoffish on Jackson simply because the Yankees already have an expensive, inconsistent starter in the form of A.J. Burnett. Like Burnett, Jackson shows flashes of pure brilliance at times. But he often has trouble finding the strike zone, and as a result he walks a lot of batters (also like Burnett). Consider the fact that Jackson has been a member of 4 different team in the last 5 years. There has to be a reason for that, right? Any team who takes Boras up on this deal is going to be committing to Jackson for the next 5 years, and at a very hefty price. Sound familiar? (*cough* Burnett *cough*) Personally I just have a bad feeling about Jackson and his ability to successfully perform in New York. So I really hope that Joe at River Avenue Blues isn’t right in suggesting that the Yankees may be laying low now only to pounce on a Jackson contract later this month.
So there it is. I still believe the Yankees could use another arm to upgrade the rotation, but with the asking prices for the talent that is still out there I believe the cost is simply too great, and one the Yankees will not (and should not) incur.