(Time to get used to the idea of Arroyo? Courtesy of Getty Images)
In an article for The Star-Ledger earlier in the week, Andy McCullough suggested a somewhat startling possibility for the Yankees and their plans to improve their rotation should they fail to sign Masahiro Tanaka. According to an unnamed source in the article, the plan could change without Tanaka to a more cost-conscious one:
"Cashman has discussed replicating their strategy from 2011, when Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia shined on small contracts."
This is the first I've heard of such a backup strategy, although the Yankees have been loosely linked to cheaper free agent starting options like Bronson Arroyo, Paul Maholm, and Johan Santana, the rehabbing focus of McCullough's post. That strategy worked to perfection in 2011, when the Yanks got 311 IP, 20 wins, and 5.0 fWAR in 51 starts by Colon and Garcia. It didn't have the same effect in 2012, when they tried to bring back Garcia to supplement more expensive FA signings Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte and got a 5.20/4.68 split and just 0.8 fWAR in 107.1 IP from him.
I wouldn't mind 1 from the Arroyo-Maholm duo, not interested in Santana on anything more than a MiL deal, but 2 would rub me the wrong way. The Jimenezes, Garzas, and Santanas of the world are still better pitchers than those lower-level guys and are still better options for the Yankees, who need to make a serious effort to improve the rotation if they want to reap the full benefits of revamping their lineup. In the event they don't sign Tanaka, they need to stay interested in all rotation possibilities, not just the cheap ones.