The Yankees aren’t talking to Masahiro Tanaka or, well, anyone really who could help their rotation.
The New York Yankees have made DJ LeMahieu their No. 1 priority this offseason, and rightfully so. After all, he’s the team MVP.
Without that piece in place, the plan collapses.
But even if LeMahieu returns, there’s still plenty of work to do. The bullpen needs an extra bridge piece. The rotation needs some veteran help. And what about all the lefty bats?
When the Yankees made the early offseason move of picking up Zack Britton’s $13 million option, we thought they might spend a bit more freely than the league’s top penny pinchers. But outside of a LeMahieu pursuit, it looks like nothing gold can stay.
Unfortunately, the Yankees don’t appear to have any interest in getting better in one of their main areas of need — or even maintaining the status quo.
As Andy Martino of SNY wrote, depressingly:
Over the past week or so, word has spread around the game that the Yankees are not acting aggressively to add to their starting rotation. They’re not even holding serve by pursuing a return with Masahiro Tanaka.
Are the Yankees really going to start the year with Gerrit Cole followed by the promising but mostly inexperienced group of Domingo German, Deivi Garcia, Jordan Montgomery, Clarke Schmidt, Michael King, Nick Nelson and eventually Luis Severino, once he returns from Tommy John surgery?
There are many months remaining, and plenty of pitchers available. But right now, it’s all about DJ LeMahieu — and not Tanaka or anyone else.
That would mean Tanaka would be gone, as would James Paxton and JA Happ from the projected 2020 Opening Day rotation. With Luis Severino still rehabbing, Gerrit Cole would be alone atop the mountain.
Remember when we used offseason energy to debate whether that five-man rotation was title-worthy? Well, what about a rotation with only one of those men?
Martino goes on to cite the fact that the Yankees could eventually cycle back to the bargain bin once LeMahieu’s situation shakes out. The team is reportedly prepared to pursue Corey Kluber, Taijuan Walker, and even Paxton if the price is right — but what’s the right price for a team that appears to have set a baseline of zero?
Passing on a Tanaka reunion to pursue LeMahieu is somewhat defensible, if the team has convinced themselves they can’t afford both. But making zero inroads in the pitching market is impossible to justify for a supposed contender.