With Cole out, Yanks move on in pitching search

January 14th, 2018

NEW YORK -- stood in the front row of the seating area down the first-base line prior to Games 6 and 7 of the 2001 World Series at what is now known as Chase Field in Phoenix, wearing a pinstriped jersey clutching a homemade sign that read, "Yankees Fan Today, Tomorrow, Forever."

That, and Cole's first-round selection in the 2008 MLB Draft (he opted to attend UCLA), remain the extent of his connection to the organization. With Cole headed to the Astros as part of a trade consummated on Saturday, the Yankees will look elsewhere to upgrade their starting pitching.

The Yankees and Pirates had seriously discussed Cole, who was 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA in 33 starts for Pittsburgh last season, but the Pirates opted for a four-player package from Houston that includes right-hander Joe Musgrove and infielder .

Among the players that New York was thought to be dangling were outfielder -- whose path to The Bronx received another roadblock with the December acquisition of reigning National League MVP -- and right-hander Chance Adams, the organization's top pitching prospect as rated by MLB Pipeline.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has said that he is wrestling with the option of adding to the rotation against pursuing more experienced options at second and third bases, where , , , and are set to compete for jobs.

Cashman has acknowledged that he has spoken with the representative for free-agent right-hander , and though Darvish tweeted late on Friday that he has discussed terms with the Yankees, a source told MLB.com that no New York offer has been made to Darvish.

Darvish has listed the Yankees among six interested suitors. The Astros, Cubs, Rangers and Twins are also in play, as well as a mystery team that is believed to be the Dodgers. Darvish was 10-12 with a 3.86 ERA in 31 starts for the Rangers and Dodgers in 2017, going 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA for Los Angeles.

Though Darvish pitched well against the D-backs and Cubs in the first two rounds of the postseason, he was hit hard by the Astros in the World Series, going 0-2 with a 21.60 ERA in two starts.

Darvish would also complicate the Yankees' objective of keeping payroll below $197 million. The club would love to unload outfielder 's remaining $68.5 million, but a more likely reaction would be a trade of outfielder or right-hander .

Last month, the Yankees checked in with the Rays about right-hander Chris Archer, with the D-backs about left-hander and with the Tigers about right-hander , but those talks are thought to have stalled. The Yanks have also expressed some level of interest in free-agent right-hander Alex Cobb.

If the season were to begin today, the Yankees would likely feature a rotation comprised of , , , and their choice of , or .