Of course, there were decent secondary options on the market for starting pitchers, but a good many of those guys signed before Lee, throwing a wrench in the most obvious back up plan. As far as the trade market goes, well, it’s pretty bare. The Yankees may or may not have had serious interest in Zack Greinke, but the most comprehensive reporting I’ve seen had the Royals asking for Montero, Eduardo Nunez, either Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos, and one of the Yankees AAA arms. I was as bullish as just about anyone when it came to acquiring Greinke, but that would have been too much for even me to stomach giving up for 70 starts from Greinke, and it represents significantly more value than what the Royals got from Milwaukee.
And now? Well the Yankees still need a starting pitcher but, not counting Andy Pettitte, the best one available on the free agent market is Carl Pavano. Raise your hand if you want Cashman to reach out to him. Yeah, that’s what I thought. This, I suppose, is where the Plan B’ers tell me that Cashman needs to “get creative” in making a trade, but really, what does that even mean. I suspect that it’s code for “trade for Felix,” because the realistic version of a “creative” deal is the Curtis Granderson trade, and I’ve been assured by most of the Plan B’ers that that was an awful deal. At the least, “get creative” seems to mean “find a way to trick someone into giving away a pitcher no one thinks will get traded,” and that’s just not realistic.
Did the Yankees have a contingency plan to turn to if Cliff Lee signed elsewhere? I’m sure they did, but it doesn’t mean that it worked out, just like Plan A didn’t work out. Ultimately the reality of the matter is pretty simple; the Yankees need a starting pitcher, and after Cliff Lee made his decision, there just weren’t any good options available. The one guy the Yankees wanted and needed wanted to go somewhere else. That’s the long and short of it, and no amount of complaining about Brian Cashman will change the reality of the market this year. The only way to rectify that is to be willing to overpay for someone, which, almost by definition, is a bad move at this point.
Or sign Carl Pavano.