NEW YORK -- Although it's not official, it seems fairly certain we will not see Japanese stud right-hander Masahiro Tanaka in Yankees pinstripes this season, and likely not before 2016, since the Rakuten Golden Eagles appear determined to hold on to him for the remaining two years he's under their control.
In that event, the Yankees are going to need starting pitching, and badly. So where do they turn?
Their first look, according to indications sent out by GM Brian Cashman and other industry sources, is that they will look within -- to David Phelps, Michael Pineda, Vidal Nuno and perhaps Adam Warren.
• RHP Phelps made 22 appearances (12 starts) last year, going 6-5 with a 4.98 ERA and 1.42 WHIP.
• LHP Nuno made five appearances (three starts) and went 1-2 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.
• RHP Warren made 34 appearances, mostly in middle relief, and just two starts, never going beyond five innings. His overall numbers were 3-2, 3.39 ERA and 1.43 WHIP, but one of his wins came in a start against the Astros in the final series of the season in which he threw five shutout innings.
• RHP Pineda missed the entire season after undergoing shoulder surgery in 2012. The club has said he will compete for a job in spring training, but his status is very much in doubt.
The Yankees say they have no interest in Matt Garza, Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez, the three big-ticket pitchers still on the board. And although the Tampa Bay Rays seem inclined to listen to offers for David Price, if the Dodgers couldn't get it done by offering Matt Kemp, it is highly unlikely the Yankees could put together a strong enough package since their only tradable major league player is Brett Gardner.
There could be other alternatives via nonroster invites to some veteran pitchers who remain without a home. Bronson Arroyo, Jason Hammel, Tommy Hanson, Jeremy Hefner, Colby Lewis, Paul Maholm, Jason Marquis, Roy Oswalt and Johan Santana remain out there. All of them are suspect in one way or another, but the Yankees caught lighting in a bottle with minor league deals to Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon a couple of years ago and are likely to buy some tickets in that lottery again this spring.
Personally, I think Oswalt, despite his history of back problems, and Santana, coming off two major shoulder surgeries, might be worth a look if they agree to low-risk minor league deals with incentives built in if they make the club. One of the beautiful things about being the New York Yankees is you can invest a modest amount of money in guys like this and not be hurt if the investment doesn't pay off.
QUESTION: Assuming Tanaka is out of play, whom do you think the Yankees should take a flyer on for their rotation this spring?