Yanks feel prepared, but staying 'engaged' in pitching market

New York willing to go to Spring Training with what it has, but recognizes potential benefit of adding starter

January 3rd, 2017

NEW YORK -- There is a chance that and comprised the majority of the Yankees' heavy lifting for this offseason, with their signings helping to reload a roster that manager Joe Girardi expects to be prepared to compete in the American League East.

Yet the Yanks' continued dialogue with the White Sox regarding left-hander , among other targets on the trade market, suggests that general manager Brian Cashman might still have a big move up his sleeve before pitchers and catchers report to Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 14.

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Pitching is the Yankees' priority as they prepare for spring. Though the club continues to say it is willing to go forward with what it has, it recognizes the potential benefit of adding a starter to a mix that counts , and as its only locks.

While Quintana would be an attractive fit for his talent and contract -- he is signed over the next four years at a relatively affordable $35.35 million, so he conceivably would help beyond this season -- the Yanks have thus far been reluctant to meet the high asking price of the White Sox, which would dip into New York's stable of promising talent.

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"I think the most important currency to have nowadays is high-end prospects, and I think we -- by everyone's evaluation -- have collected a number of those," Cashman told MLB Network. "So I think we can easily do that. It's just, will we do that?

"I think we'll stay engaged in the marketplace, and over time, if we do match up favorably with anybody where we can get what we want and they get what they want, then yes, we'll try to pull something down."

The Pirates and Yankees have been considered the most serious suitors for Quintana, who turns 28 later this month and went 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA over 32 starts in 2016. Contrary to a published report, the Yankees have not asked Chicago about a package including both Quintana and reliever , a source told MLB.com.

A Quintana acquisition could come at the cost of talent such as outfielder or infielder , the Yanks' top-ranked prospects according to MLBPipeline.com and the prizes of the late July moves that relocated and Chapman to the Indians and Cubs, respectively.

Cashman believes the price of completing a trade is higher than it has been at any point of his tenure as general manager, which dates back to 1998.

"We benefited from that at the Trade Deadline, but now, obviously, on the acquisition side of it, it's very costly to do business as well," Cashman said. "We'll continue to evaluate it and stay engaged, but we're prepared to go to Spring Training with the team we have currently if need be."

Free agent is among those who have received some level of interest from the Yankees, who also could pursue another reliever despite having Chapman, , and potentially in the bullpen.

and are among the relievers who have been connected to the Yanks, though Cashman recently said he was happy with the job that left-hander Tommy Layne did after joining the club midseason. Girardi is similarly pleased with how his bullpen looks.

"I like what we've done," Girardi said. "The teams that have a lot of success have very strong bullpens, and bringing back Aroldis Chapman really adds to that. We saw what he was capable of doing last year, and he fit in here. He liked it here, so I think it was important."

With installed as the starting catcher following 's trade to the Astros, the December move to add Holliday on a one-year, $13 million contract appears to have solidified the Yankees on the position-player side, with Greg Bird and set to compete this spring for the starting first-base job.

A similar battle is shaping up in right field between and , with managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner recently weighing in to say that he expects Judge to take hold of the opportunity.

New York has gauged trade interest in veterans and , and though it is unlikely it will move Headley, Gardner continues to draw interest. He could serve as an important chip should a deal be struck between now and Opening Day, but even if not, the Yanks believe that their offseason plan has already come together.

"I'm really happy about the trajectory that we're on," Cashman said. "I think our fans are excited by it."