The Yankees, in need of a frontline starting pitcher with CC Sabathia out for the year, made a decent play for Cubs righthander Jeff Samardzija before he went to the A's in a six-player blockbuster, according to source familiar with the talks.
The Yankees thought they made a good enough bid only to finish second, sources said.
Losing out was a disappointment for the Yankees, who figure to have little hope of prying Rays star David Price from the division rival. The Yankees would surely look at Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels if they were to become available, but even the Yankees have a budget, and they liked Samardzija's contract situation better. Samardzija's salary in 2014 will be $5.345 million and he's eligible for arbitration in 2015, after which he's a free agent. Some next-tier possibilities might include John Danks, Jorge De La Rosa, Ian Kennedy and maybe Wade Miley.
The Yankees' system is much improved but they didn't have the elite prospect to match shortstop Addison Russell, who became the centerpiece of the deal with Oakland. The Yankees' best prospects, according to a scout, are right-handed pitcher Luis Severino ("a young Pedro"), shortstop Abiatal Avelino (young upside athlete), Aaron Judge ("poor man's Giancarlo Stanton"), lefthanders Ian Clarkin and Manny Banuelos and rightander Rafael DePaula. They also have two catchers, Gary Sanchez and John Ryan Murphy, who was up earlier.
The Yankees didn't want to include set-up man extraordinaire Dellin Betances and probably not Severino, either. But they did like Samardzija very much.
The Marlins, Mariners, Dodgers and Angels were among teams thought to be interested in Samardzija. The Blue Jays had shown early interest but may be more interested in a rental, so Jason Hammel's inclusion in the A's deal might have hurt them more.