The New York Yankees have been looking for rotation depth all offseason, but don't expect them to jump into free agency to sign one of the top available starters.
On Sunday, manager Aaron Boone acknowledged free agent righties Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb "aren't really in play" for the Yankees at the moment. They're not looking to spend big or give up draft picks and international bonus money to sign a qualified free agent.
Aaron Boone was asked about the chances of pitchers like Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn joining the rotation.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) February 25, 2018
“At this point I don’t see those guys as realistic options ... it’s my understanding that those guys aren’t really in play for us.”
Brandon Drury is still in his pre-arbitration years and will make something close to the league minimum in 2018. He doesn't eat up many of their finite payroll dollars., and that's separate from the $10 million they're planning to set aside for midseason additions.
That $15 million should be enough to lure Cobb or Lynn to New York. Spring training is underway and I'm sure both pitchers are starting to get a little nervous. They're eager to sign because they want to play and they want to know where they're going to spend the next however many years. A three- or four-year deal in the $12 million to $15 million per year range is very reasonable, though who knows in this free agent market.
That said, both Cobb and Lynn declined the qualifying offer, meaning the Yankees would have to surrender their second and fifth round 2018 draft picks to sign them, as well as $1 million in international bonus money for the 2017-18 signing period. The Yankees are only allotted $4.75 million internationally each year, so we're talking about giving up two high draft picks and more than 20 percent of their international money. That's not nothing.
At the moment the Yankees have five starters for five rotation spots, so they do not desperately need rotation help. Here is the club's starting five:
The Yankees made a push to acquire Gerrit Cole before he was traded to the Houston Astros, and their other offseason trade targets reportedly included Detroit Tigers righty Michael Fulmer, Arizona Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin, and Tampa Bay Rays ace Chris Archer. That suggests the Yankees are looking for an impact pitcher, not just another depth arm.
Both Cobb and Lynn have strong track record -- Cobb is certainly familiar with the AL East after spending all those years with the Rays -- and would help the Yankees, even if it means pushing the rock solid Montgomery to Triple-A until a sixth starter is needed. The Yankees are content to sit out free agency, however. They have payroll space though, plus lots of prospects to trade. New York figures to be a major player on the trade market.