With Masahiro Tanaka not being posted to Major League Baseball and staying in Japanese baseball now, it drastically alters the New York Yankees plans for their starting rotation and it still leaves a lot of question marks surrounding it.
Just like in 2011 after Andy Pettitte retired for the first time and they missed out on Cliff Lee in free agency, only that season, the Yankees gambled on Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia and it worked well enough to get them a division title and into the first round of the playoffs. If not for Colon and Garcia being on the team, who knows what the Yankees would have been able to do that year.
Now, three years later, the Yankees may need to make a similar gamble to their rotation for a former ace looking for a second chance and looking to rebound from injuries; former New York Mets left-hander Johan Santana.
Santana missed all of the 2013 season for the Mets, as well as the 2011 season with elbow and arm issues in the final years of the six-year, $137.3 million deal with the team before the 2008 season; a deal that many considered at the time to be a great move for the team, but was more of a bust considering how many games Santana was on the DL for the Mets during that time. However, with the Mets, he did throw the team's first ever no hitter in team history in the 2012 season against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Santana, just like Colon in 2011, is looking for that chance to show the league he can still be an effective pitcher and with the Yankees desperately needing arms for 2014, especially with Tanaka's team now allowing him to come to the United States, plus the departure of Andy Pettitte due to retiring after the 2013 season and Phil Hughes signing a three-year, $24 million deal with the Minnesota Twins earlier in the offseason.
With Santana, they can give him an incentive-laden contract, but allow him to be the number four starter and be the second left-hander in the rotation along with CC Sabathia, and thus, giving Michael Pineda the chance to be the fifth starter in spring training. A rotation of Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Hiroki Kuroda, Santana and Pineda would seem like a good one for the Yankees to go to war with in 2014, especially if Santana can recover any of the magic he once had in that left arm.
Plus, the benefit of signing Santana over someone like Matt Garza or Ubaldo Jimenez is that Santana won't cost a lot of money and can allow the Yankees to try and get under the $189 million mark for their self-mandated payroll goal, although some wonder if that will even happen this year.
At worst, if Santana isn't what the Yankees thought he could be for the team, they can simply release him and move on to another starter in their farm system. But if the Yankees can catch lightning in a bottle with Santana and see if he can be the guy that was once considered to be one of the best left handed starters in the entire game, then it should be a gamble that the Yankees should look into for this coming season.
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