NEW YORK -- Brian Cashman tossed and turned in his London hotel room last week, the Yankees' increasing hunger for starting pitching keeping him from a restful evening. The general manager grabbed his cellphone and began pinging the cellphones of opposing executives.
"It was 1:30 in the morning and I was texting with various GMs," Cashman said. "They were like, 'Aren't you in London?' I was like, 'Yeah, but I can't sleep.'"
That search is continuing, as the Yankees have identified adding arms as their top priority heading into the July 31 Trade Deadline. Cashman reiterated that position on Friday, telling MLB Network Radio that the "target would be to continue to reinforce the rotation."
"We've got a long way to go and those innings are vitally important, so we're going to target starting pitching," Cashman said. "And then if not, [we will] continue to reinforce the bullpen, but the bottom line is trying to just add quality to what we already have."
The Bombers are opening the second half by sending Domingo Germán, J.A. Happ and All-Star Masahiro Tanaka to the mound against the Blue Jays, with James Paxton and CC Sabathia to follow against the Rays. Because post-July 31 waiver deals have been eliminated, there is additional urgency for contenders to address their needs over the next 2 1/2 weeks.
"The one thing for Yankee fans to know, and I've talked to our staff internally here, is Houston is going to get better, Tampa's going to get better, Boston's going to get better, Minnesota's going to better, Oakland's going to get better," Cashman said.
"There's a lot of players out in the marketplace. If we made a move today to kind of check a box -- say we acquired a starter and a reliever. All right, good, we just got better in theory and on paper. But then, within a week, all those teams in our league I just mentioned, they're also going to get better."
"There's different ways for us to try to thread the needle," Cashman said. "I can't predict with confidence yet what's going to happen. There's difficult discussions that take place. We'll see what happens."
The Yankees expect to welcome first baseman Luke Voit back to the active roster for Saturday's matinee against Toronto, following a brief stint on the injured list for an abdominal strain. Infielder Breyvic Valera was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre following Friday’s 4-0 win over the Blue Jays.
There are also positive updates regarding right-handers Dellin Betances and Luis Severino, both of whom are attempting to recover from right lat strains. Betances will resume throwing on Monday, while Severino is scheduled to be examined by team physician Chris Ahmad on Saturday in hopes of receiving similar clearance.
While Betances could in theory build the necessary stamina to rejoin the bullpen fairly quickly, Cashman said Severino will need "six or more" weeks to make a big league impact. As such, it is possible that a healthy Severino would be used as an abbreviated starter (throwing 75 or so pitches) or even as a reliever.
"We're going to make sure that we do what's best for Luis Severino and his career, because what's going to be best for him is going to be best for us," Cashman said. "The one thing I do know is that I feel very comfortable and confident that sooner than later he's going to be a choice that Aaron Boone can give a ball to in whatever category he needs to."
Giancarlo Stanton (right knee sprain) continues to be in the rehab phase, according to Boone, who said the slugger has not progressed toward baseball activities. Stanton was injured on June 25 and has played in just nine games this season.
"It's kind of going slow," Boone said. "He's working on the things basically in the training room, quad strengthening, getting swelling out of there, those kinds of things. But he hasn't begun even moving toward baseball activities yet."
This date in Yankees history
July 12, 1951: Allie Reynolds no-hit the Indians at Cleveland's Municipal Stadium, pitching the Yankees to a 1-0 victory over Bob Feller and the Tribe. It was the first of Reynolds' two no-hitters that season, as he would also hold the Red Sox hitless on Sept. 28 in the first game of a doubleheader.