Brian Cashman said Monday that the Yankees are 99% likely to head to Tampa for spring training with the team that they already have. That’s bad news for anyone who was hoping New York would try to swing a trade for a pitcher or sign any remaining free agents to bolster the roster.
The conversation with Cashman, which took place on Jim Bowden’s radio show, mainly focused on the pursuit of a starter. The Yankees have a lot of uncertainty in their rotation behind Masahiro Tanaka, and several free agents could be obtained on short-term deals if the Yankees were willing to open up the check books. None of those guys are overly exciting, but they would provide some additional stability beyond relying on guys like Luis Severino, Luis Cessa, and Bryan Mitchell to be solid contributors.
Cashman says he has Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Michael Pineda locked into rotation spots. Sabathia is coming off of a nice resurgent year, but concerns about his knee are still very much real. Degenerative knee conditions don’t get better, and who knows how long Sabathia’s has left. There are no signs that Pineda won’t be the constantly infuriating pitcher who will strike out ten while giving up seven runs. That’s just who he has proven to be. There is also the worry about Tanaka’s elbow that hasn’t fully gone away despite him pitching a full season last year.
So, maybe you feel good about Tanaka. That’s really about it. Can the Yankees really hope to be competitive with a rotation that shaky? It would basically be depending on everyone outside of Tanaka exceeding their expectation. That doesn’t feel very realistic.
To overcome the shakiness of the rotation, the Yankee offense is going to have to hit extraordinarily well. Even there, opportunities to add offense were passed up whether for the best or not. It feels like the Yankees want to break out of the mediocre trend they’ve found themselves in, but aren’t prepared to bring in the players necessary to get them there.
No one is going to say that the free agent market this year was good, but there were options. New York was tied to Jose Quintana throughout the offseason, but preferred keeping prospects over pulling the trigger. Whether or not that turns out to be a savvy move remains to be seen.
The Yankees are relying on their farm system to produce in the near future. Waiting on that to happen has kind of halted their forward progress in other areas, so hopefully that wait pays off pretty soon.