Despite industry-wide expectation that the Yankees will be in full pursuit of Yu Darvish, the Yankees themselves are speaking as if the Japanese starter is out of their price range. Brian Cashman has said all winter that he didn’t expect to spend big on a free agent, and signing Darvish will certainly count as spending big.
The free agent market’s top two starters are already off the board. If the Yankees aren’t willing to pay for Darvish — and if trade market asking prices don’t come down — there’s a good chance the Yankees rotation will remain unchanged with CC Sabathia, Freddy Garcia, Ivan Nova, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes.
If that’s the case, Hughes might just be the key to the rotation’s success or failure.
“How does he bounce back?” Joe Girardi said. “Is he able to be the guy that we had in 2010, and if he is, that’s almost like going out and making a move because now you’re acquiring a guy, in a sense. We didn’t really have the Phil Hughes from 2010 and 2011.”
A return to form for Hughes — a season without injuries and without prolonged hiccups — would be a massive upgrade for the Yankees rotation.
“I think it was a learning situation,” Girardi said. “I think players go through different learning curves during the big leagues. Just the look he had in his eyes when he left last year and came out of the bullpen for us, I just felt that Phil was poised to have a good year for us, and he’s determined to get back to where he was. He’s working hard I know in California, and I’m looking forward to getting Phil back.”
If the Yankees can’t make a move for another starter, they’ll have little choice but to count on Hughes to be back at his best, healthy and effective.
“I’ve got to keep taking a step back and recognizing that we’ve got guys in our system that are producing,” Cashman said. “… We’ve got a lot of depth. Can we add to it? We’d like to. But is it realistic? It’s not necessarily that realistic because for me to be able to push through something, I’m probably going to have to overpay to do that, and that’s a tough thing to do, especially when you’re sitting with a lot of talent, a lot of people you could slot in and (have them) do this job.”
Associated Press photo