Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rotation Upgrades: Sign 'Em, Trade For 'Em, Or Wait For 'Em

("Gosh. This free agent pitching market is sooooo boring." Courtesy of John O'Boyle/The Star-Ledger)

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

It's been a somewhat quiet first 2 days at the Winter Meetings for the Yankees, at least compared to last week.  Many of Cash's comments to the media yesterday were indicative of a team still trying to figure out its strategy for this week, trying to identify the best opportunity to upgrade the roster.  The bulk of the early buzz has been around next year's outfield: who's playing where, who's not playing where, who's on the trade block, and who's not.  There's also been a little talk about the open infield spots and the players currently on the radar as free agent targets, most notably Omar Infante and Mark Reynolds.

What there hasn't been is much activity on the rotation front.  The Yankees locked up what they hope will be half of the 400 innings they're looking for when they re-signed Hiroki Kuroda last Friday, and one of the major goals of this week was thought to be securing that other half.  Cash said yesterday that signing another pitcher would be easier than trading for one and he's right.  The Yanks have much more to offer by way of dollars than they do prospects.  But they don't seem to be all that interested in any of the top free agent starters, and even if they did have pieces to trade there are red flags attached to almost every conceivable trade target.  So where do the Yankees go for the rotation help they need?  Because right now they're sort of stuck in no man's land.

Phelps And/Or Warren Becoming Trade Bait?

While we're on the topic of interesting things said by Joe yesterday, how about his comment that David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, and Preston Claiborne will all be part of the bullpen next season?  It may not sound like much, but when you consider the available spots in the 'pen and the number of available bodies, it may shed a little light on what the Yankees plan to do with David Phelps and Adam Warren.

Using my Project 189 team as a hypothetical starting point, I had Claiborne as the odd man out to start the year based on the assumption that the Yankees were going to carry both Phelps and Warren.  If Claiborne is in as far as Joe's concerned, that locks up 3 of the 7 available spots.  Another one is going to be reserved for a LOOGY, another will probably be saved for Dellin Betances since it's put up or shut up time for him, and I still expect the Yankees to sign Veteran Reliever X to take on some of the late-inning work.  That's 6 guys with only 1 open spot remaining for a long man.

What Joe Said/What Joe Meant: Starting Center Fielder Edition

Joe touched on a lot of topics when he met with the media yesterday.  My favorite part might have been his explanation of the center field situation and what he planned to do to address it with the 2 candidates to start there:

“I’ll sit down and talk to Jacoby.  Talk to him, sit down and talk to Gardy, and decide what we’re going to do.”

Good on Joe for staying PC and fair to Gardner, the incumbent starter, but I think we all know how those 2 conversations are going to play out.

- With Ellsbury: "Ellsy, you're going to play center field."

- With Gardner: "Gardy, Ellsy is making $153 million.  You're making about 4 and change.  Who do you think is playing center field?"

And there you have it.  Starting center fielder issue resolved.