The Yankees know what they need. They (whisper) need starting pitching. The trick now is when to strike amidst all the clamoring in the free agent and trade markets. Timing, as they say, is everything…
The Yankees, like all teams at this juncture of the season, are waiting for the Manny Machado and Bryce Harper ball to drop before moves of their own are made. By “moves” we are, of course not talking about the re-signings of Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia because, in the long range of the offseason, they don’t count.
What counts is the well-advertised and probably very accurate pursuit by the Yankees of Patrick Corbin and J.A. Happ. The trouble is the Yankees are not the only team interested in these two pitchers. And already, just the idea of the Yankees being “involved” with acquiring Corbin has driven his price over the $100 million mark for X number of years.
It’s likely that once Harper and Machado are signed, the market will be cleared of two teams who’ve exhausted their payroll for this year and subsequently are out of the Yankees way. From there, the game is played on some very tenuous ground, in which moving too swiftly often results in overpaying, or the reverse in which the Yankees might wait too long, allowing another team to scoop up their prey like an erne on the seashore.
Along those lines, it’s illuminating to recall the Red Sox waiting until the last moment to pull the rug from under the feet of Scott Boras, signing J.D. Martinez at a bargain price.
Last year was different though, amid charges of collusion by the owners, and several players sitting at home throughout Spring Training (Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb among them), waiting to begin their season with a new contract and another team.
The Yankees also find themselves suddenly in the stranglehold of the bizarre wide-spread reporting the Cleveland Indians have everyone up for sale, including possibly Hall of Fame-bound, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, the one-two punch of their starting staff.
Then, the hapless Seattle Mariners let go with their entry in the sweepstakes, James Paxton. Albeit, with an eye on the crop of Yankees pitching talent percolating in the minors like a Justus Sheffield, Domingo German, Albert Abreu, et al. and suddenly they’re in the game too.
When things get as complex and “juiced up” like this, with so many exciting names and possibilities, it’s not going to be surprising to see Brian Cashman slow everything down. Because even while knowing Patrick Corbin hails from the Syracuse area in New York, and has an all but stated desire to play for the Yankees, the smart move by the Yankees might be to wait and then wait some more.
Corbin was the first name out of the box as Yankees hunted prey. This could be one of those instances where the first ones now will later be last, especially if the price for Corbin keeps rising at a time when the Yankees are still mindful (good for them) of the luxury tax threshold – now a sizeable $207 million.
After all, it’s not about making a deal. The Mets, Angels, Mariners, Rangers and a host of other teams do that. Instead, it’s about making the right deal. Save for a few self-admitted flops like Sonny Gray, Brian Cashman has been pretty much on target, and sometimes over the top in obtaining a Gleyber Torres or an Aroldis Chapman on the rebound from the Chicago Cubs.
As a fan of the Yankees, I’m willing and ready to stick it out for as long as it takes for that deal or signing to fall into place.
In the meantime, let the Dodgers, Phillies, and even the Nationals and White Sox line up their dollars to finalize the Harper/Machado sweepstakes.
Remember, the Yankeed are in need, but they by no means desperate for Starting Pitching. especially when Hal Steinbrenner has indicated he doesn’t feel any extraordinary pressure coming into the 2019 season. And if things don’t work out this winter, there’s always the prime hunting ground Brian Cashman has grown famous for in July.
As I’ve indicated before, Don’t Panic – Brian Cashman’s Got This.