Masahiro Tanaka has already started his United States tour and will be meeting with many teams over the next couple of weeks. The New York Yankees are one of those teams. They’re expected to be very serious suitors. The Yankees are in need of a top of the rotation starter, thus their serious interest in Tanaka.
As it stands now, the Yankees rotation is in shambles. C.C. Sabathia is coming off the worst season of his career. Hiroki Kuroda is 39 and although Ivan Nova looked good last year, you really don’t know what to expect from him. As for the back end of the staff, it’ll be guys like Adam Warren, David Phelps, and Michael Pineda battling in spring training. In order to complete their big spending this off-season, the Yankees must add one more starter.
What if the Yankees lose out on Tanaka? Homer Bailey is a name that has been brought up many times. After rejecting a Brett Gardner for Brandon Phillips trade, the Yankees asked the Cincinnati Reds about Homer Bailey. They were told he is unavailable because the Reds believe a contract extension could be worked out with Bailey. In the last few days it has been reported that Walt Jocketty, who is the Reds general manager, believes it will be difficult to retain Bailey which means he should become very much available.
It’s hard not to like Bailey. At only age 27, he has finally turned a corner over the past two years. He went 13-11 with a 3.68 ERA while striking out 168 in 2012. Bailey did even better in 2013 going 11-12 with a 3.49 ERA and falling just one strikeout shy of 200. He also pitched over 200 innings in each of those seasons. He has entered the prime of his career and will likely only get better and would look very good on the Yankees staff. Of course, a rotation that included both Tanaka and Bailey would be one to dream about but if Tanaka does sign with the Yankees, a deal with the Reds should become an after thought.
The Yankees have always been known as a team that lacks speed. Building a team just on power doesn’t really work well and that is what the Yankees have done over the past decade and they only have one title to show for it. Bottom line, it does not work. The Yankees have Gardner but he has been one of the only sources of speed for a while. With the Yankees’ signing of Jacoby Ellsbury, they are able to combine speed and power making their lineup a serious threat. They can now steal bases and manufacture runs while hitting a few home runs here and there. However, holding on to Gardner is crucial to keeping that dynamic look to the lineup.
What if the Yankees do lose out on Tanaka? It was reported earlier that the Los Angeles Dodgers “won’t be outbid” for Masahiro Tanaka. A bidding war is the last thing the Yankees want or need. If the Dodgers are true to their word, life without Tanaka is very likely. This is where Bailey becomes a must. I hate the idea of trading Gardner but in the grand scheme of things, if the Yankees want to make it deep into the playoffs, they cannot afford to not add another starter.
Bailey is a much better option than any of the free agents still available which is why trading for him would be the only option after losing out on Tanaka. Although the lineup would not be as strong without Gardner, it’ll still produce many runs. For a Yankees team that desperately needs pitching, they can afford to lose the speed of Gardner if the return is Bailey but only if they cannot sign Tanaka.