Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Capuano signing signals Yankees intent to wing it

The New York Yankees agreed to terms with left-handed starter Chris Capuano on a one-year, $5 million contract for the 2015 season Tuesday according YES Network's Jack Curry via Twitter. The deal has not been officially announced by the team.

This is not exactly what some Yankees fans were looking for, but it does indicate that the club might be intent on winging it when it comes to fielding a rotation for the 2015 season.

With CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova all suspect to injury the Yankees figured to build a good deal of rotation depth during the offseason, but many hoped it would center around a deal for Jon Lester, Max Scherzer or James Shields. That’s looking more and more like a pipe dream with Lester already signed with the Chicago Cubs and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman suggesting that Scherzer’s contract wishes are too rich.

“I don’t think the pricier stuff is realistic in this particular year,” Cashman said as reported by Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. “I’m open to any legitimate opportunities that present themselves.”

For the most part it seems like the Yankees are hedging their bets on the injury-riddled returning crew, hoping to get the most out of their potential upside and back it up with stopgap contracts like Capuano’s and those already in the system.

By adding Capuano, the Yankees figure to have him, David Phelps, Adam Warren, Bryan Mitchell and maybe even Manny Banuelos fight it out for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation. Nova will not be ready to pitch until sometime in late May after Tommy John surgery last season. There is certainly still room for another starter and it would not shock me if the Yankees grabbed one more arm, if not a few more arms by adding some minor league contracts with spring training invites attached to the mix as well.

Ever since the Yankees started to really show signs of steering clear of Lester and Scherzer, I figured they would practically beg Hiroki Kuroda to come back for another season. Kuroda has been the most consistent and durable starter for the Yankees over the last three seasons (38-33, 3.44 ERA, 3.68 FIP across 620 innings).

Kuroda won’t come cheap, but he also does not have a long-term commitment to be concerned about and frankly he is arguably the best pitcher available on the thin free-agent market right now not named Scherzer or Shields. At this point, if Kuroda wants to pitch, it's not hard to see him doing so for the Yankees.

Could the Yankees jump in on Scherzer or Shields down the road? Of course they could and the player’s agents will do everything they can to engage the Yankees in talks. But, more and more it looks like a nine-figure salary won’t be handed out in the Bronx this offseason.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.

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Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.