The Washington Nationals have signed Stephen Strasburg to a seven-year, $175 million extension and somehow it's big news in the Bronx. It's become second nature in Yankeeland to start ticking off free agents the organization might sign before they ever reach the open market. We've done it for years, and now that Strasburg is gone, the Yankees are in trouble.
The rotation has been a problem over the last few seasons and there doesn't seem to be many solutions in sight. We all expected them to sign someone big last offseason, but they can't do that next offseason either because Strasburg was literally the only desirable starter slated to be available. The Yankees neglected to add any pitching at a time where the likes of Zack Greinke, David Price, and Johnny Cueto were all on the free market, and now they have no backup plan.
Yes, the Yankees have a full rotation this year and in 2017, but it's not so good that they can't make an upgrade over someone in the mix. Would you not upgrade over Michael Pineda right this second? It's also kind of essential that they add someone on some kind of long-term deal because the team is about to lose its entire rotation. CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, and Nathan Eovaldi will be free agents after the 2017 season, and Masahiro Tanaka can opt out of his contract that year. This would leave only Luis Severino, who hasn't exactly proven himself to be a top of the rotation arm just yet.
As I have mentioned before, the Yankees desperately need another big arm to protect them against a situation like the one with Sabathia, where they have no other choice but to dish out a huge extension that ends up hurting the team in the end. Having to cross off Strasburg's name is just another reminder that they are heading toward this eventuality once again. Now they will have to trade off potentially useful pieces to add an arm because there isn't a whole lot waiting in the wings.
There are plenty of possible backend starters rattling around in the minors, but with the exception of James Kaprielian, there isn't anyone who will be clearly ready to take on a major league roster spot in the next two years. Maybe Ian Clarkin, if he can really make up for lost time. This isn't one of those situations where they let the veterans leave just in time for the MLB-ready prospects to take their place. The Yankees still need to add people, but there's not a whole lot they can do.
Though it's unhelpful to dwell on what they should have done, this is why it makes sense to extend Eovaldi. Do whatever it takes to ensure that the entire rotation doesn't walk out all at once. Give the team a reason not to re-sign Tanaka to a bad deal. Brian Cashman will surely be able to make some kind of trade to add young talent, but it's really the second best thing they can do. These are the Yankees, and they should be embracing the moves that cost "only" money instead of shying away from them. They should never have put themselves in this position to begin with, but this is the reality we are living in now.
The Yankees cannot be desperate again, but it feels like they are setting themselves up for it. Strasburg could still be a Yankee one day–he does have an opt out clause–but that doesn't help them in the immediate future. I hope you guys like Clay Buchholz, R.A. Dickey, Scott Feldman, and Jake Peavy. I hope you enjoy Ivan Nova. This shouldn't be the game this team has been playing, but they are and it's is all Hal's fault.