Tuesday, December 5, 2017
With Aaron Boone officially named on Monday as the new manager, confirming the Daily News report on Friday, and Shohei Otani no longer a consideration, the Yankees can move forward now in planning for next season, which mostly means looking at ways to add pitching.
On Monday Brian Cashman said he has talked to CC Sabathia’s agent about the possibility of the big lefthander returning next season, and that makes sense on a short-term contract.
But the GM also indicated the Yankees have the financial flexibility to venture more deeply into the free-agent market and still meet their objective of getting the payroll under the million luxury-tax threshold.
When I asked if that meant someone like Alex Cobb was a possibility, Cashman didn’t object, at least in a general sense.
“We’re open-minded on anything as long as it hits our pressure points,’’ was the way he put it. “We’re looking to do more. You can never have enough pitching.”
By “pressure points,” Cashman was again making it clear the Yankees won’t be swayed from getting under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold. But he acknowledged that with some $70 million coming off the payroll in expired contracts, the Yankees should have room to absorb significant salary.
And while there is no indication they’d be willing to pay at the top of this free-agent class for someone like Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish, there has been speculation in the industry that the Yanks have interest in Cobb, the 30-year old righthander who made an impressive comeback from Tommy John surgery last season with the Rays.
Whether they seriously pursue him could depend at least partly on the price if multiple teams bid on Cobb. He’s likely to get $16-17 million a year, but term would be more important to the Yankees, and it’s hard to see them going beyond four years in such a deal.
Chances are, in fact, Cashman would be relatively disciplined in any pursuit of a free agent, knowing he still has a strong rotation core in Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, and Jordan Montgomery, and also has a lot of promising young pitching in the farm system.
I can’t see the Yankees going for more than a year or two for Cobb. I’m not certain he’s appreciably better than CC Sabathia. Maybe he is a better bet to stay healthy, but is that going to be worth the significant difference in financial commitment?
This offseason is shaping up to be rather dull now that the Shohei Ohtani pursuit has fizzled out and the drive to save Hal’s pocketbook has shifted into high gear.
Wake me up in March.
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