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The Yankees should spend their remaining budget on a starting pitcher

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There’s only one area to address now.

St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Yankees padded their infield insurance last night by trading for Brandon Drury. After exploring a number of options, Brian Cashman and the front office decided to flip a pair of prospects to address a potential weakness. This move likely rules out free agent targets, including Mike Moustakas and Neil Walker.

Considering Drury is a pre-arbitration player, he won’t damage the luxury tax plan. That still leaves the Yankees with around $12 million to spend prior the beginning of the season. While the club could add that money to their trade deadline war chest, that’s unlikely. They will almost certainly spend it in the coming weeks. With the infield settled, it only makes sense to use that cash on a starting pitcher.

Even though spring training is well underway, there are a number of free agent starters left on the market. They range from aces outside the Bombers’ budget, like Jake Arrieta, to intriguing rotation arms in Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb. The Yankees have been connected to the latter in recent weeks, with Jon Morosi reporting recent interest in Lynn:

“The Yankees also are known to be pursuing starting-pitching options, including free agent Lance Lynn. It would be difficult for them to add both a No. 2 or No. 3 starting pitcher and Moustakas for no more than $15 million combined in 2018 payroll obligations; the Yanks want to keep their spending within that budget between now and Opening Day, to preserve the flexibility to acquire players at the Trade Deadline without surpassing the $197 million luxury-tax threshold.”

It’s fair to speculate the Yankees are out on Moustakas now. That money could then go towards a deal for Lynn. While he isn’t an impact pitcher, he would upgrade the pitching staff. Last season the right-hander worked to a 3.43 ERA over 186.1 innings. The FIP wasn’t pretty — 4.82 — but he has a history of outperforming his peripherals.

If the free agent market doesn’t work out, the Yankees could use that budget to bolster the rotation through a trade. The team loves Chris Archer, and for good reason. He’s battle tested in the AL East and has as much upside as anyone. He also will earn $6.4 million in 2018, a salary that would put the budget to good use. Cashman unsuccessfully tried to pry Archer loose early in the offseason, but could he circle back? The Rays are conducting a fire sale, so I’m sure the two sides will keep in contact.

Of course the Yankees have a strong rotation as is. In fact, it’s underrated if anything. That said, with the division at a premium, every upgrade counts. The Yankees should do anything they can to improve. With money to spend, it should go towards starting pitching. After all, when a team thinks its roster is set, it should go out and get another starter. That’s just smart thinking.