The Yankees are looking to settle their starting rotation, add bullpen help and then determine if one of the mega stars on the free agent market fits the roster.
Here is an update from each of those areas, followed by my take on how things currently stand and may shake out...
Corbin's tour arrives at Yankee Stadium
The Yankees will meet with free agent starting pitcher Patrick Corbin Thursday according to the New York Post's Joel Sherman. Corbin has already met with the Phillies and Nationals this week, according to multiple reports. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reports that Corbin could receive, if he hasn't already received, six-year offers.
MY TAKE >> While Corbin is among the best starting pitchers on the market this offseason and the Yankees have had their sights on him for some time, it will be interesting to see how far New York will be pushed in bidding for the 29-year-old lefty. Both the Phillies and Nationals can pose stiff competition in terms of financial might.
I wrote earlier this offseason that it might make less sense for the Yankees to commit to a six-year year deal considering the natural decline of pitchers as they enter their mid-30's. That stance has not changed. That said, if the average annual value of the deal is driven down by adding the year, the Yankees might not consider it damaging, especially if they believe Corbin is the pitcher that puts them into the conversation of the best rotations in the game and increases their chances of winning a championship.
Rotation fallback options
SNY's Andy Martino reported that despite Corbin being the Yankees' top target, the club has interest in two other left-handed hurlers -- J.A. Happ and Dallas Keuchel. Former Yankee Nathan Eovaldi might also be a fit for the Yankees per Sherman. Newsday's David Lennon reported that Yankees owner/managing partner Hal Steinbrenner has Japanese star Yusei Kikuchi in his sights.
MY TAKE >> The Yankees can still be a championship caliber club if Corbin decides to sign elsewhere and the team lands either of the three fallback options above. With Happ, they would receive a steady pitcher who has already demonstrated he can handle New York and AL East opponents. In Keuchel, the Yankees might need to be a bit more reserved in terms of length given he is two years older than Corbin, but when at his best Keuchel can be a lockdown starter.
As for a reunion with Eovaldi, the Yankees are well aware of his abilities as a teammate and as an opponent. Eovaldi's high octane repertoire fits the Yankees' model, but the worry about his surgically repaired elbow should keep the contract length in the three-year range. Finally, in terms of Kikuchi, the Yankees would have to weigh paying the contract value for a pitcher not considered to be of the ilk of recent Japanese hurlers that have made the jump to MLB.
Rebuilding the bullpen
Sherman also reported the Yankees are interested in signing two relievers this offseason, with Adam Ottavino among them. Other rumored names include reunions with David Robertson and Andrew Miller, who Martino reported the Yankees requested medical records of.
MY TAKE >> The Yankees have shown that creating a top-flight bullpen is tantamount to success in today's game. As the club could lose Robertson and Zach Britton, it's no surprise that the Yanks would delve back into the "elite" relief market to replenish the bullpen. Each of these three relievers can dominate, but all three also have question marks attached.
Ottavino is 33 years old and might be overvalued based on a stellar 2018 season and middling results in recent seasons. Robertson, though durable, is not as successful as he used to be at wiggling out of jams. Meanwhile, Miller's health and age (34) is something the Yankees would need to strongly consider, regardless of how exceptional he performed prior to the 2018 season.
What about the mega-stars?
As Martino indicated would happen, potential Yankees pursuits of Manny Machado or Bryce Harper have taken a back seat to the pitching market.
MY TAKE >> The Yankees understand that in order to compete in 2019 and beyond, the largest issue facing the club is starting pitching. The path is clear with the Yankees already trading for James Paxton and the sit down to happen with Corbin today. Adding either Machado or Harper would no doubt make the club better, but Machado has brought drama to his free agency and Harper is not a fit as the club is currently constructed. The Yankees may get involved with Machado and to a lesser expectation with Harper, but it should not come at the expense of cementing the pitching situation first.