It's no secret that the New York Yankees current plan right now is to acquire starting pitching and have gone all-in to acquire Masahiro Tanaka from Japan, but there's a growing feeling around baseball that they could be beaten out for him.
There's a general feeling around baseball that the Chicago Cubs could be the team to "blow everyone away" for Tanaka's services, which would leave the Yankees scratching for a Plan B because at the current moment, CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Hiroki Kuroda are the only three starters guaranteed for next season.
Since the Yankees aren't too crazy about the current starters on the free agent market in Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Bronson Arroyo, their next best option would be the trade market and look to a team that has a surplus of pitching to let go of and one team that could help would be the Los Angeles Dodgers.
This past week, the Dodgers locked up Clayton Kershaw to a record-setting seven-year, $215 million deal and are also in the mix for Tanaka as well, plus they have Zack Greinke's massive contract on the books as well as newly-signed Dan Haren and Hyun-Jin Ryu, which leaves Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley.
Beckett is likely at the end of his career and could be forced to retire soon, so he's not a very attractive option to trade for and the reason why they got Haren for a season, but Billingsley makes a lot of sense for the Yankees, even with him coming off Tommy John Surgery last year.
At 29-years-old, Billingsley's contract is an affordable one at $12 million for this season; he also has a team option for 2015 for $14 million, but for the time being, the 2014 season is the one that needs to be focused on. Billingsley is a career 81-61 with a 3.65 ERA in 190 starts and has posted double-digit win totals in six consecutive seasons before running into injury trouble in 2013.
One writer on Yahoo suggested that the Yankees swapped Billingsley for catcher Francisco Cervelli, which would benefit the Yankees, but it's not clear if the Dodgers would want to deal their starter for a backup catcher who spent most of the end of last season serving a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis case. But if the Dodgers were able to land Tanaka in the next couple of weeks, then that could make the Dodgers view one or two of their starters like Beckett and Billingsley as expendable and may practically give them away because of how much salary the Dodgers would be paying between Kershaw, Greinke and Tanaka, plus Haren.
If the Yankees were able to land Tanaka over teams like the Cubs or Dodgers, trying to trade for Billingsley would still make sense, which is the same thing that Mike Axisa from River Ave. Blues and CBS Sports suggested. and one that general manager Brian Cashman should look into before pitchers and catchers have to report next month.
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