By Ernie Palladino
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Whether Brian Cashman rounds up enough prospects to land a pitcher with a controllable contract or writes a check big enough to lure a free agent, the success or failure of his quest for a sixth starter won’t make or break the Yankees.
Not with the hitting this team has. Folks like Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and the rest of a lineup expected to bludgeon the AL East into submission will determine his team’s 2018 fate. The rotation will serve as little more than an interesting sidelight.
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That’s exactly the reason Cashman might serve his goal better by waiting on Yu Darvish to bring his price down than to ship off more young talent for someone like Gerrit Cole. As the Yanks have proven year after year, it’s a lot easier to write a check than to build a farm system. Given the effort Cashman has spent to fill his system with a bevy of potential major-league talent, even possibly paying the league a few luxury tax dollars would be preferable to moving talent that could help fill some future gaps.
Chance Adams, one of those kids, is right there at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, ready to make his bid for the sixth spot after going 11-5 with a 2.89 ERA last season. Adams may not have the dominant strikeout stuff Darvish has flashed since coming over from Japan in 2012, or even the nearly 1-to-1 strikeout/inning ratio Cole has, but he could certainly serve as a decent spot starter/sixth man for new manager Aaron Boone.
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Cashman being Cashman, though, he’s looking for something more than that. Which is why he should consider waiting for the free-agent pitching market to stabilize. Once that happens, Darvish, as an example, could drop his asking price to something more reasonable than his current ask, believed to be up to $25 million per season.
That will either minimize the luxury tax or, depending on how much the Yankees potentially spend on a third baseman, eliminate the need to pay the bill for a 16th consecutive year. At this point, they have about $20 million to play with before they reach the $197 million threshold.
The advantage, whether they pay or not, is keeping the young talent….