The Yankees seem content, and rightly so, to wait for the price to come down on Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole, the market to come back to them on smaller trades or to pursue the free agent market. While it may not be the Yankees' desire, one has to wonder if going into spring training as currently constituted would be all that bad.
The Yankees lineup is stacked to the point that it can sustain two rookies facing an uphill battle against major league pitching. There is enough firepower with the Yankees seven presumed positional starters to not only to withstand the growing pains of rookies, Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, or potential first-time full-timers, Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade, but to balance their own downturns throughout the season.
Rarely will we see the likes of Greg Bird, Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton all skid at the same time. If just three or four of them are clicking at once, it can be enough for the Yankees to remain one of the top offenses in the game.
Instead of the Yankees adding rotation depth from the outside of the organization, they could open the season with in-house backup plans. Yes, dangling Chance Adams in a deal makes sense, because at the moment he is the Yankees closest pitching prospect to major league readiness. This also means that if there is an injury or a major disappointment in performance from one of the current five rotation members, Adams could step in.
Adams will endure a learning curve of his own, but if we're being realistic, doesn't Cole have something to prove as well?
Cole's main advantage is experience and "pedigree," however how much of his 2017 performance points to the pitcher the Yankees would receive? For as much as the Yankees would hope to obtain the pitcher that flashed signs of brilliance for much of the 2015 season, they may end up with a middle of the rotation innings eater at a substantial prospect cost typically deemed for a top of the rotation arm. We cannot be certain which version of Cole would develop in the Bronx.
Further-- and this may be the most important aspect of this debate-- the Yankees can make deals at the trade deadline when they know their weaknesses and exactly what they have at their disposal.
If the Yankees went the rookie/inexperienced route at second and third base, they would know in a couple of months if they had enough to get through the summer and into the postseason. Maybe Gardner finally shows signs of deterioration. What if Hicks is truly a fourth outfielder? What if Judge or Stanton sustains a significant injury? Each of those circumstances makes Clint Frazier, the other Yankees' prospect muttered in trade talks, extremely valuable to his current club.
There are positive and negative factors that will sway the Yankees' desires at the trade deadline. The trade cost might be higher, but at that point the direction in which they need to turn should be clear. Instead of working on assumptions, the Yankees would be basing their decisions on the reality in front of them.
This is not about "prospect hugging" or failing to step on the neck of their opponents. Though it is not expected that the Yankees will stand pat the rest of the offseason, it would not automatically point to an unwillingness to get better if they did.
The current outside options have nearly as many question marks as their own players and without playing the games, it is truly unknown if the Yankees would be adding to the correct area of the roster. After the All-Star break, as the Yankees head toward the trade deadline, the club's needs will be evident and at that time they can utilize the wealth of prospects at their disposal to add a veteran player at the necessary position(s).
Sometimes hanging back and waiting for the right deal takes longer than anticipated - in this case months - but that patience can often be rewarded.