The Yankees have solidified an already stacked offense with the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, so they'll likely turn their attention to bolstering the starting rotation next.
The Yankees have been in contact with CC Sabathia, but the left-hander has also spoken with the Angels. The Yankees will continue to try to shave payroll to stay under the luxury tax and if they are able, it is possible the club makes a pursuit for right-hander Alex Cobb.
The Yankees are familiar with Cobb from his days with the Rays, and he's coming off a fine season in his first full season after Tommy John surgery (May 2015). Cobb tossed 179 1/3 innings (a career high), registering a 3.66 ERA, 1.22 WHIP with 126 strikeouts. Cobb is a ground ball pitcher (54 percent career ground ball rate) with very good control (2.2 BB/9 in 2017). With another year following the surgery, Cobb could be primed to return to his pre-surgery success (3.21 ERA in his first 81 MLB starts).
According to MLB Trade Rumors, the anticipated contract for Cobb is in the four-year, $48 million area, which would necessitate payroll reductions elsewhere for the Yankees. If the Yankees were to sign Cobb, the club would also sacrifice their second highest draft pick and international bonus funds because the Rays made him a qualifying offer. At 30 years old, Cobb certainly represents a starter that fits the mold the Yankees have worked to create in which many of the primary players are in their prime seasons (though a four-year deal will push Cobb outside the typical prime for a pitcher as the contract ends).
The Yankees bring back four rotation members from the 2017 season - Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery, Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka. Adding Cobb, a solid No. 2/3 starter, would make the Yankees' rotation one of the more formidable in the league. With Cobb, the Yankees rotation would resemble one that will place a better than average starter on the mound every day.
The Yankees would be battling the Cubs and a handful of other teams for Cobb's services. It's being reported that the Cubs feel confident they can sign Cobb because of his relationship with manager Joe Maddon and newly named pitching coach Jim Hickey from their time with the Rays. It is doubtful the Yankees will get into a bidding war over Cobb because of the aforementioned financial restraints.
The chances of the Yankees landing Cobb are probably slim because of everything else that has to come into play. The Yankees might value Sabathia at a slightly lower salary and with a shorter commitment because of the young arms (Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield for example) coming up in the system. Even if Sabathia signs elsewhere, it does not necessarily mean the Yankees will drive hard after Cobb.
The Yankees have a surplus of talent of which to trade for a starting pitcher should they desire. Doing so may be more economical in terms of payroll than Cobb will cost and may result in a younger pitcher as well.
Despite the perceived shortcomings, it is not wise to underestimate the Yankees. If Brian Cashman can pull off a deal for Stanton virtually out of nowhere and the club truly wants Cobb in their rotation, they'll make a strong push. It's just a matter of where the budget line ends and what other moves would have to be made to balance the books.