Hartnett: Why The Yankees’ Search For An Elite Starter Has Stalled

Cashman Happy To Play Waiting Game

‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
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There’s a reason why the Yankees’ search for a dominant starter has stalled.  Brian Cashman isn’t enamored with the free agent talent available and is unwilling to meet their unreasonable salary demands.

No doubt about it, this offseason is a pitcher’s market.  For every noteworthy starter available, there are about seven teams competing for his signature.  Retaining Freddy Garcia for another year at a fair value contract near $4 million appears to be a wise move.  Rather than being bullied into paying ‘over the odds’ salary for an overpriced free agent, Cashman has explored multiple trade options but has so far come up empty.

Depending on which sources and rumors you believe, the Yankees have discussed internally what kind of trade package it would take to bring a talent like Matt Cain, Gio Gonzalez, Dan Haren or Matt Garza to the Bronx.  The chances of the Yankees actually landing Cain this offseason would be somewhere between slim to none.

Cain is integral to the Giants’ chances of contending in 2012 and their general manager Brian Sabean will attempt to find offense through free agency to make San Francisco a less-pitching reliant ballclub.  I don’t see Haren as a realistic possibility either.  The Angels would prefer to add an arm to their rotation rather than dealing a very gifted starter away in Haren.

Garza and Gonzalez are more likely candidates for the Yankees as the Cubs and Athletics have sent out signals to clubs regarding their availability.  For Cashman, it’s just a matter of how steep the demands for Gonzalez and Garza actually are.

Cashman has no intention to trade away Eduardo Nunez or top organizational arms Manny Banuelos and Adam Warren for someone who isn’t a clear-cut superstar hurler.  Garza isn’t an elite starter but he’s still a durable arm.  Theo Epstein would desperately seek Nunez in return as he serves as an upgrade at third base or second base for the Cubs but that isn’t a deal Cashman is willing to make.

Ideally, Cashman would prefer to give up Jesus Montero and two or three B-level prospects to acquire Garza or Gonzalez and proceed with the plan to groom Nunez as Derek Jeter’s eventual replacement.

Jesus Montero would be of little interest to the Cubs as they have Geovany Soto penciled-in at catcher and it is unclear whether Montero has what it takes to be successfully converted to first base, a position Chicago seriously needs to upgrade.  While it is probable Albert Pujols will re-sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, Prince Fielder remains a possibility for the Cubs as long as the length of the contract doesn’t scare them off.

Meanwhile, Billy Beane and the Athletics have a desire to replenish their organization with both young arms and bats.  The Yankees can address each of Oakland’s needs and I still think Cashman’s most obvious course of action is completing a deal for Gonzalez.

Cashman will do whatever it takes to keep hold of Nunez and Banuelos but I’m confident he can drive the asking price down to a more comfortable level if talks between the Yankees and A’s indeed become serious.

It appears Cashman is prepared to wait it out for the right deal through trade or free agency.  While that may not be the juiciest hot stove news, it’s exactly what he should be doing to protect the Yankees’ farm system and long-term future.

Yankees fans – do you believe Cashman will find an arm for the rotation through free agency or via trade?  Share your thoughts and opinions below.  Sean Hartnett will be covering the Yankees’ Hot Stove all winter long.  Send him your tweets @HartyLFC.

  • Ron

    Ideally, all of the teams would hold off paying the exorbitant asking price of the free agent pitchers, forcing them to lower their asking price and the number of years. Then the Yanks would be able to avoid another Burnett disaster by giving someone a 3-year contract without tying up $82 million. However, the ideal won’t become reality. Some teams will start giving 5-year contracts and $80 for someone who might have a good year, followed by four bad years. Which turns the signing into a nightmare. The Yanks have a lot of money and they should sign at least one quality starter, preferably Wilson or Buehrle, for 4 years.

    • Joe P.


      Not much argument here. I like Buerhle at up to 4 years for $60-70 million. Dependable lefty, eats innings, great clubhouse presence, excellent demeanor. Exactly the kind of pitcher the Yankees need and exactly the kind of person they look for. I would love to have him in our rotation and in our clubhouse. Trade AJ to anyone who’ll take him even if we have to eat alot of his salary.

  • oldyankee77

    It seems as though some of these Yankee fans, have been wearing Rose colored glasses or have not paid attention to the game for more then 2 to 5 years!
    Things like; Tino Martinez did a great job “replacing” Mattingly but the bar is substantially higher with Jeter……..Me thinks, you may need to look-up some stats if you have never watched Mattingly in his pre-back problems.
    Unbelievable!!! Eduardo Nunez will NEVER be Jeters replacement…….Oh, really, what has Jeter done other then get 3,000 hits and play on many WS teams? That is called, being in the right place at the right time and playing more then 17 years with a winning team.
    Garza=AJ…no thanks!

    • Vinny

      Garza is not the new AJ. He has pitched in the AL for most of his career and has numbers very similar to a Yankee legend early in his career, Andy Pettitte.

      Pettitte pitched 852.2 innings, had a 3.75 ERA, a 124 ERA+, a 1.358 WHIP, 9.2 Hits/9, 3.0 BB/9, 6.2 K/9…opponents hit .268 with a .712 OPS against him

      Garza’s AL career – age 22-26 – 725.1 innings, 3.97 ERA, 107 ERA+, 1.315 WHIP, 8.7 Hits/9, 3.2 BB/9, 7.1 K/9….opponents hit .252 with a .723 OPS against him.

  • Mike

    Yanks need to move in on Garza. He’s young , puts up solid numbers across the board , and is AL EAST battle tested. Plus love his competive nature. He’d be a solid number 2 .

  • K Y Jelly Beane

    I would hope the man with the NY Yankee cash would have learned
    his lesson with the failure for big bucks A J Burnoutt ,but no!
    When these super $$$$ stars come here they fail NYC is tough and we can
    now say “Yankees Who?”.

  • jackd

    Trade swisher and move tex both are chokers!

  • Dennis T

    Montero is the future superstar I agree. But as fragile as A-rod has become Nunez would become
    a better 3B in my opinion.

  • Fernando

    I would keep the team status quo as far as I am concerned I like Buerle at 3 years if they could land him that would be great he reminds me a little like Jimmy Key back in the day, otherwise I’ll like our chances again this year with the rookies and our current staff. I even like colon again for another year…

    In fact pitching wasn’t even our problem last year we need clutch hitting and for Arod to be himself again in clutch situations.

    • hartylfc

      I like the Buehrle-Key comparison but it appears that Buehrle prefers to stay in the Midwest and wants a 4-year deal. No shortage of takers. – Sean Hartnett

  • Russ in PA

    As a lifelong Yankee fan it is hard to believe the Yankees not being in the hunt for every available free agent, at any price. Could it be economic reality has finally hit the Yankees Universe? Another reality is that Jeter will have to be replaced. Correct that, make it shortstop will need to be replaced. No one will ever replace Jeter and there is little likelihood that the Yankees can trade for a Tino like replacement. Tino Martinez did a great job “replacing” Mattingly but the bar is substantially higher with Jeter. Nunez needs improvement to be an everyday shortstop but apparently the Yankees feel he’s the best that have, at this time.

  • Kevin Davis

    Sean, I’m sure glad you’re not the Yankee Gm. Why on earth would you be willing to trade Montero and declare Nunez hands off? Jesus Montero is going to be a super star. Eduardo Nunez is nothing better than a bench player. Unbelievable!!! Eduardo Nunez will NEVER be Jeters replacemant.

  • Matt Agne

    Yu Davish

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