The Yankees are very clearly in the market for a starting pitcher, but Brian Cashman acknowledged this afternoon that neither the trade market nor the free agent market is particularly encouraging at the moment. The Yankees would prefer to add a high-end starter rather than a back-of-the-rotation innings eater, but the Yankees might have to take what they can get.
“It’s the whole spectrum,” Cashman said. “I’d like to climb as high on the board as I can get, but that’s unrealistic. I just may have to settle for something better than what I’ve got, and that may not be realistic. We’re just going through the motions, trying to figure it out.”
Cashman wouldn’t comment, in anyway, about the impact of the Masahiro Tanaka situation. He wouldn’t say whether that’s slowed down the market, or whether it’s changed the way the Yankees have engaged the market.
Ultimately, the Yankees are sorting through a market that’s much weaker than the position player market. Cashman said he could shift focus to the bullpen — add some low-cost rotation options and spend on a reliever or two — but even the bullpen market is getting costly.
“Some of those guys are as expensive as the starters,” Cashman said. “… Non-roster invitees might be key. I’d rather go the easier route and pull something down that someone’s like, ‘Good move,’ but I don’t know if that’s going to happen. I might have to go the harder, longer route. We’ll see.”
• Cashman confirmed that Dellin Betances has an option for next year and can be sent to Triple-A. Betances burned through his third and (supposed to be) final option last season, but each winter some players are given a fourth option, and Betances is one of those. That means the Yankees don’t absolutely have to carry Betances on the big league roster out of spring training. Being out of options — combined with his terrific second half last year in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre bullpen — seemed to make Betances a vague favorite to break camp on the big league roster. Now that’s much more up in the air.
• Also, Eduardo Nunez has an option left. Considering Brendan Ryan basically took Nunez’s utility spot, and Kelly Johnson is pretty locked into some sort of infield job, Nunez could very easily end up back in Triple-A next year.
• The Yankees have, in fact, expressed interest in Johan Santana. However, Cashman said that’s because Santana’s agent reached out to the Yankees, and the Yankees said they’d be interested in talking about him. “I don’t know what to think of Johan right now,” Cashman said. “I haven’t looked at his medicals. I did have a call from his agent about a lot of his players, so we agreed to have a conversation at some point. We haven’t had one yet.”
• New strength coach Matt Krause has met with Derek Jeter and CC Sabathia this winter. Cashman said he wasn’t sure of the exact details, but nothing negative to report in Jeter’s rehab. Still several weeks from real baseball activities. Kind of a “no news is good news” situation. “He was impressed with his workout and all that type of stuff,” Cashman said.
• The Yankees 40-man roster is full, so they won’t be taking anyone in tomorrow’s Rule 5 draft. They did, however, leave some solid minor league relievers unprotected. “We expect to lose some, yeah,” Cashman said. “I wouldn’t be surprised.”
• While shopping for both a second baseman and a third baseman — both in free agency and on the trade market — Cashman said he thinks it will be easier to land a second baseman than an insurance policy at third. “Second base is deeper in terms of options,” Cashman said.
• In his talks with free agent relievers, Cashman said his conversations have not reached a point in which any high-reliever has demanded a guaranteed closer job. That might be a matter of conversations not getting that far, though. “I know in some of those (cases), if you’re going to pay them that money, they’re obviously coming to close,” Cashman said.
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