At this point in the offseason, it is obvious that the New York Yankees are taking a huge gamble trying to sign Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka. If there is one aspect of the Yankees that needed to be improved from 2013, it is pitching. However, Spring Training is quickly approaching and New York has yet to sign a starting pitcher.
If the Yankees end up signing Tanaka, Brian Cashman‘s plan will have unfolded flawlessly and few will question his strategy. On the other hand, many will be critical of Cashman if Tanaka signs elsewhere.
In the unfortunate scenario that Tanaka brings his talents to another team, the Yankees’ rotation will be incomplete merely weeks before pitchers and catchers report to camp. Nearly every other hole on New York’s roster has been filled this offseason, however, fans are still waiting for that fifth pitcher. Cashman has a few options if Tanaka does decide to sign elsewhere.
Matt Garza, Bronson Arroyo and Ervin Santana are all still available free agents. Each one of these pitchers has the ability to be in the bottom half of the Yankees rotation in 2014. While none of them posted near Tanaka’s 1.24 ERA in 2013, each has proven he can pitch in the MLB.
The Yankees would be thrilled to acquire either Garza or Arroyo this late into the offseason. Both pitchers have postseason records over .500 and career ERA’s right around four. Each is a more than viable option for the Yankees as a No. 3, No. 4 or No. 5 pitcher.
Santana would serve as a solid No. 4 or No.5, however, he isn’t nearly as reliable as Garza or Arroyo. Santana has had a losing record in back-to-back seasons, making him a rather risky signing for the Yankees. While he won’t be a primary option for Cashman, he will serve as a decent backup plan.
Tanaka needs to make up his mind by the end of January or else he won’t be playing in the MLB in 2014. If Tanaka doesn’t sign with the Yankees, it will be interesting to see what direction the Yankees’ front office goes in.