A Front-Line Starter Figures To Be High On GM's Wish List, But Only On His Terms

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s that time of the year again — when Brian Cashman goes out of his way to dispel just how aggressive the usually aggressive Yankees plan to be at the trade deadline.

It could all be a smokescreen, but you really can’t blame him for taking a public stance. Regardless of what the Bombers need to solidify themselves in advance of a pennant race, other general managers often jack up their asking prices because these are the big-spending Yankees. It’s not unusual for execs to demand top prospects for potentially missing link veterans.

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That’s likely what’s happening right now, prompting Cashman to step forward on Monday and fire a warning shot to the rest of the league: There will be no holding us hostage.

“It’s more likely that we don’t do anything rather than predicting we do something significant,” Cashman told reporters.

In past years the Yankees haven’t had the strongest farm system, but of late they have many young players that have already helped out the big club and could potentially be on the radar of other teams. So much so that Cashman questioned what’s a fair asking price to plug a hole or two.

“I like our team,” Cashman said of the Yankees, who held a four-game lead over Baltimore atop the AL East heading into their off day on Monday. “Do we have flaws? We have flaws. But I think we have a lot of internal options. I think we have depth in our pitching. Could you improve on the starting staff with what’s on the marketplace? The answer is yes but at what cost? Could you improve on the bullpen? The answer is yes but at what cost?”

With their rotation struggling through bouts of inconsistency, the Yankees have been linked to several top starting pitchers, including Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels, Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija of the Chicago White Sox.

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It is believed the asking price for Hamels and Cueto have included some combination of the Yankees’ top prospects, right-hander Luis Severino and power-hitting outfielder Aaron Judge, who are both currently at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Cashman pretty much made it clear on Monday that those two and possibly a few others are off limits.

But what might work in the Yankees’ favor is the number of other starters that figure to be available. According to the New York Post, David Price, Scott Kazmir, Ian Kennedy, Mike Leake, Yovani Gallardo, Mat Latos and Dan Haren may be on the block over the next 10 days. Only Hamels is signed long term. Cueto, Samardzija and all of the arms listed above are in the final years of their contracts.

So, it stands to reason, the more the market is flooded the less leverage GMs will have to use against Cashman.

“Last year there were a ton of holes, a ton of holes to blacktop,” Cashman said. “I had a lot of areas that needed covering. At this current date, that’s not the case, and I hope it stays that way.”

Minus the other big arm to put next to Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda, the Yankees already have one of the best bullpens in baseball and have plenty of young position players who Cashman thinks can contribute if called upon.

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Then again, these are the Yankees. Anything is possible between now and July 31, but it appears whatever could happen would very well end up being on Cashman’s terms.