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Yankees rumors: Steinbrenner could splurge on starter via trade

The Yankees are heavily exploring the trade market for starting pitchers.

Mike Stobe

The New York Yankees appear likely to be major players on this summer's trade market. According to a report from Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, the Yankees could be willing to spend on a rotation upgrade, with owner Hal Steinbrenner stating that the team is "always willing to look at options come July."

The Yankees' rotation has been decimated by injuries in recent weeks. Opening Day starter CC Sabathia is currently on the DL with degenerative knee issues. Ivan Nova will miss the rest of the season recovering from Tommy John. And Michael Pineda will be out until at least early June with a muscle strain in his right shoulder. That leaves Masahiro Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda as the only members of the Yankees' Opening Day roster currently active. If New York wants to make a run at the postseason, they're probably going to want to do better than Vidal Nuno, David Phelps, and Chase Whitley in the rotation.

Of course, the Yankees' method of throwing cash at whoever they want doesn't exactly work on the trade market, and to make matters worse, the club has a significant dearth of trade chips. This winter, Baseball Prospectus ranked the Yankee's system as just the 23rd best in baseball, citing an extremely poor 2013 season for the system. Aside from top prospect Gary Sanchez, the system lacks any high-end prospects.

Because of the Yankees' limited available commodities, it seems unlikely that they'll be able to land one of the bigger names available such as Jeff Samardzija or David Price. However, as Davidoff indicates, someone such as Jason Hammel of the Cubs or Kyle Kendrick of the Phillies may be realistic options.

New York could also be a possible landing spot for another Phillies starter in left-hander Cliff Lee. Philadelphia reportedly shopped Lee this winter, but not many teams were willing to take on a potential $77.5 million investment over the next three years (assuming his $27.5 million option for 2016 vests), no matter how good Lee is. Given their financial prowess, the Yankees could have an upper-hand were the Phillies to resume trade talks.

Outside of the rotation, the Yankees still have holes elsewhere, though none are as pressing. If Carlos Beltran (who was placed on the DL today) ends up missing a significant amount of time, the club could look into acquiring an outfielder. Second baseman Brian Roberts has also gotten off to a poor start (86 OPS+), and the team could look for an upgrade there.

The Yankees are currently 20-19, and sit just a half game back behind the Baltimore Orioles for the top spot in the AL East.