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Cashman remains inactive as another big starter is traded

Mat Latos is the latest top of the rotation starter to be moved

Well, another potential #2-type starter- Mat Latos –  has been traded while Brian Cashman does nothing. Cash has not made a significant move to bring in a new pitcher since the failed Javy Vazquez trade in 2009.  Since the 2010 season when both Vazquez and A.J. Burnett proved they were enormous busts, the Yankees have had a glaring need for another top of the rotation starter.  The need increased after Andy Pettitte’s retirement.

Despite the obvious need and Cashman’s own admission that “pitching, pitching, pitching” has been his #1 target, he has not made any significant additions, electing to rely on what is in the system and going for low-risk veterans like Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon & Kevin Millwood.  While Cashman continues to complain about the price, we have seen more than a dozen potential top of the rotation arms change teams. Cliff Lee (twice), Dan Haren, Zack Greinke, Shawn Marcum, Matt Garza, CJ Wilson, Trevor Cahill, Mark Buehrle, Doug Fister, Ubaldo Jimenez, Edwin Jackson, Roy Oswalt, Yu Darvish (likely) & Mat Latos have all been moved since the Yanks have been in the market so what is Cashman waiting for?

Each one of the above pitchers have had their own set of circumstances but to see that many starters being moved, it is really mind-boggling that Cashman has been unable to make any moves.  The Yanks seem to have the 2 most necessary things needed to acquire a SP – plenty of cash and a stocked Farm System.  But if we look in-depth at what has prevented the Yankees from completing a deal, these seem to be the biggest obstacles:

  1. Cashman has been very reluctant to part with his top prospects.  All trade partners have asked for 1 or more of Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances & Eduardo Nunez.  Cashman was willing to trade Montero for Lee but things stalled when Seattle also insisted on Nunez.  Lately Cashman has rebuffed any and all offers for Montero & Banuelos and I think he is right in doing so. Unless a truly elite arm  with multiple years of team control becomes available, those 2 should stay.
  2. Teams have not accepted or Cash  has been unwilling to trade his next level of prospects.  It seems to me that the Yanks have plenty of guys besides the big 4 mentioned above that teams would be interested in.  Romine & Gary Sanchez are both highly regarded Catchers that project to be MLB starters. They also have 4 ready or nearly-MLB ready pitchers in Hector Noesi, Adam Warren, David Phelps & DJ Williams. In addition there are many strong hitting prospects in Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Dante Bichette, Ravel Santana, Tyler Austin, etc but they are all in the lower levels of the system.
  3. The team is working under a stricter budget.  While Cashman always had a budget to work with, he knew he could always go over it if he felt a move really helped the team.  But money has been a reason why the Yanks haven’t made offers to most Free Agent pitchers lately.  While the budget doesn’t preclude Cash from signing a big Free Agent, it makes it much more important that he is right when he gives out the next big deal.  If they want to get under the $189M Luxury tax threshold in 2014 and stay competetive, they will not be able to eat another $80M mistake like AJ Burnett or ~$40M blunders like Igawa, Pavano, Wright or Soriano.
  4. Could Cashman be gun-shy? As mentioned above, the Yankees have often been wrong on their big money pitching acquisitions. I don’t believe Brian is afraid of making a mistake, however I do think he’s starting to become too rigid.  I understand not wanting to trade Montero & Banuelos, but I would trade anyone else in the system to upgrade the pitching.  I’d rather overpay a bit for a proven #2 and challenge for the World Series, than to do nothing and get knocked out early again in 2012. He must remember that most prospects don’t pan out and there are only so many openings in the Bronx for them anyway. Use your farm system while its strong!

    Well Joe, I didn't get you any new pitchers again but you still have A.J.

Based on what is left on the market, I think FAs Kuroda & Oswalt should be targets. Signing Kuroda and dumping AJ Burnett for any salary relief would be a big improvemet.  If Oswalt would consider a 1 or 2 yr deal, he’d also be an option.  On the trade front, I agree with not trading Montero & Banuelos for Gio Gonzalez or John Danks, but I think some combo of Betances, Nunez, Romine, Sanchez, Noesi, etc should be enough to get one of those pitchers.

The Reds got a great young, team-controlled pitcher in Mat Latos but also gave up a lot of talent.  If the Yanks were to match the Reds package, it likely would have been something like Montero, Sanchez or Romine, Noesi or Warren & Hughes or Joba.  That’s a heavy price to pay.  If the Padres offered you Latos for that package would you have done it? And what do you think of what Cashman has done the past 2 years?  Is he correct to do nothing?