For the New York Yankees, there is a silver lining in Robinson Cano’s departure to the Seattle Mariners. True, they lost the team’s best player in 2013 and one of the best players in the game, but now they have some extra cash to spend on pitching.
Looking to 2014, the Yankees’ starting rotation was the area of the team that arguably needed the most work. As of now, only three spots in the rotation are locked down: C.C. Sabathia, who’s coming off career-highs in losses (13) and ERA (4.78); Ivan Nova, who showed flashes of brilliance in 2013 but was inconsistent, and Hiroki Kuroda, who dominated for much of the year but flamed out, losing seven of his final eight decisions. Yikes.
Still, the Yankees could put together a formidable starting five come 2014. Even though all three of the returning starters struggled in 2013, much of their failure can be attributed to who was behind the plate.
The Yankees’ catchers in 2013 were Chris Stewart and Austin Romine – a backup and a rookie respectively. Next year, these hurlers will have Brian McCann as their battery mate, who will no doubt do more for the Yankees than hit home runs over the short porch in right. A nine-year veteran, McCann will instantly revive the rotation as Sabathia and Kuroda try to bounce back, and Nova tries to make the jump from good to elite.
New York can also bolster its rotation with newcomers. The Yankees have been rumored to be a major player for Masahiro Tanaka for a while now. The Japanese right-hander went 24-0 this year in Nippon Professional Baseball with a 1.27 ERA and 0.943 WHIP. If (and that’s a big if) the Bombers can sign the 25-year-old, they can immediately insert him into the no. 2 spot in the rotation.
As for the fifth starter, New York could be sitting on a winning lottery ticket in Michael Pineda. The 6-foot-7, 260-pound righty is expected to compete for a spot in the rotation after working back from shoulder surgery 14 months ago. Other in-house options are David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno.
Another potential solution is to do what the Yankees do best – turn to free agency. They could potentially pursue a mid-level arm like Matt Garza or Ervin Santana to fill out the rotation as follows:
With McCann behind the dish, that’s a solid rotation.
As of now, the Yankees only have three starters and there are question marks with all of them. Nevertheless, Sabathia and Kuroda are by no means washed up, and Nova has demonstrated multiple times that he has the stuff to dominate major league hitters. With some luck and a few good moves, the Yankees’ greatest weakness right now could become one of its greatest strengths.