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Yankees need to be prepared if the rotation falls apart

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After the rotation was decimated by injuries last year, the Yankees should be stockpiling starting pitchers just in case.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

It's officially February, which means spring training games are just around the corner. A couple of weeks have passed since the Yankees did anything major in terms of improving the team, and while it seems like they might be done making moves, the rotation could still be strengthened.

The biggest area of concern at this point has to be the rotation. Maybe it's just me, but after last season, it feels like the team should be stockpiling starting pitchers. There are legitimate concerns about nearly everyone in the rotation. CC Sabathia is returning from a significant knee problem, and while offseason reports have said that his knee feels fine, we really won't know how it will hold up until he pitches in real games. Even if his knee is okay, he could be a black hole in the rotation. Likewise, all we can do is hope that Masahiro Tanaka's elbow holds up and he makes it through the season without needing Tommy John surgery. Then there's Michael Pineda, who hasn't made it through a complete season since being traded to the Yankees back in 2012. Realistically, all three of them could wind up on the disabled list. Sabathia could also pitch his way out of the rotation. Chris Capuano is in the mix, but he hasn't been a full-time starter in a few seasons.

The Yankees need to be prepared for the worst case scenario, and right now just they aren't. What if everything that could go wrong does go wrong? That is basically what happened last year, and they somehow managed to adequately fill in the gaps, but that was thanks to a lot of pitchers performing better than expected. If things go poorly, the 2015 rotation could be reduced to Nathan Eovaldi, Capuano, Bryan Mitchell, Esmil Rogers and Scott Baker (who they recently signed to a minor league deal). Adam Warren could be stretched out during spring training, but that would weaken the bullpen. Ivan Nova should return in May or June, but there's no way of telling how well he will pitch. They might have enough pitchers to fill out the rotation if they need to, but it wouldn't hurt to have more options.

There are still some free agent starting pitchers out there that the Yankees could sign. If they still wanted to make a splash, they could sign James Shields, but that seems improbable. Chad Billingsley might have had the highest potential among all the free agent pitchers recovering from injuries, but he signed a deal with the Phillies a few days ago. Brandon Beachy is available and could be low-risk, high-reward signing. Like Nova, he had Tommy John surgery last year, and is not expected to be ready when the season starts. (Beachy's agent said that he won't sign until closer to spring training, but the Yankees should still keep their eyes on him.) Paul Maholm is recovering from ACL surgery that shortened his 2014 season with the Dodgers, but his rehab is supposedly going well. Kyle Kendrick and Chris Young are some of the other free agents who are still available, though mediocre.

I wouldn't mind seeing the Yankees sign any of these players who are recovering from injury, or any of the others out there who they could sign to a cheap deal, on the off-chance that they just might be able to pitch well. If not, they could release them. It's better to have too many pitchers (and the ability to pick and choose among them) than not enough.