Friday’s news that nominal ace CC Sabathia would undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery to repair his right knee, only increases the urgency of the Yankees’ need for reinforcements for their starting staff. Ivan Nova is already out for the year. Masahiro Tanaka may or may not be done for the season. The earliest he would be able to return would be September. Michael Pineda may be able to return in mid-to-late August if he doesn’t suffer what seems like his 37th setback since his original injury. The only member of the Opening Day staff that is not on the DL is Hiroki Kuroda, who has had horrible ends to the season the last two years. The Yankees need big time rotation help and they need it fast.
Of course, the fact that the Yankees desperately need starting pitching does not increase the available supply. The supply available is weak at best. The Yankees don’t have the prospects to pry any elite starters like David Price or Cole Hamels away from their current teams, especially when both the Rays and Phillies have expressed a desire to hang on to them. They might be able to swing a deal for 35-year-old Cliff Lee‘s contract if the Yankees absorbed nearly the entire amount still owed to the left-hander. Otherwise, the Yankees will be looking at bargain basement journeymen, an assortment of hurlers who are a has-been or a never-was.
One thing we know about GM Brian Cashman, is that he is not one to wait until the deadline to make a move. He likes to strike a week or so before the July 31st deadline. It will be interesting to see how the market will react to the plethora of buyers and scarcity of sellers and commodities this season. One would think that since it is a buyers market, sellers will want to wait until the last possible moment before making the trade, maximizing the value received in return, as other GMs get desperate. However, it makes sense, especially in the case of a starter, that a team would pay more to get the pitcher a week or two before the deadline, which would give his new team an additional start or two.
For this reason, Cashman needs to act quickly. The Yankees can’t afford to wait if they want to make a run at the playoffs in Derek Jeter‘s final season. The Yankees cannot afford to roll the dice any longer guys like Chase Whitley and Shane Greene. Whitley is in his first year as a starter, and is already approaching his innings limit for the year. Greene has had two good starts, but cannot realistically be counted on for 12-15 more in the second half. Even David Phelps, suddenly one of the more reliable pitchers in the rotation, despite starting the season in the bullpen, is on pace for a career high in innings pitched. The Yankees need new blood to be taking the hill and they need it sooner rather than later.