SAN DIEGO -- The Yankees liked Brandon McCarthy, but not enough to propose a four-year marriage to the tall right-hander. Instead, the Los Angeles Dodgers made McCarthy an even richer man as part of their reconstruction project.
The Yankees were not going to go four years because of concerns about McCarthy's injury history and the fact he has pitched 200 innings just once in his career. Brian Cashman is preaching patience and insists the Yankees should not and will not do anything they are not comfortable doing. Basically, the current organizational philosophy is discipline over big splashes.
Now it is time to see if it stays that way.
All offseason, the Yankees have privately said they will not be going after any of the big three starters (Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields). Despite rumors to the contrary, they were true to their word on Lester. But as each starter falls off the board, the bread crumbs lead to the Yankees maybe making a late run at Scherzer if they want to be true playoff and World Series contenders in 2015.
Scherzer offers the innings and the dominant stuff to combine with a strong bullpen that could vault the Yankees back into October. All the Yankees need to do is change their newfound policy of not giving long-term deals to 30-something pitchers.
Maybe they will buy into Scott Boras' view that Scherzer's "pitching odometer" makes him younger than his birthdate of July 27, 1984, suggests.
The Yankees have concerns about their starting rotation. Even Joe Girardi stated that during his media session here this week. There is a major lack of certainty and depth in the present makeup of their staff.
To review: Masahiro Tanaka is dealing with a small tear in his right elbow and did not look the same at the end of the year, following his rehab. CC Sabathia had knee surgery and hasn't been a very good No. 5 starter, let alone an ace, in two seasons. Ivan Nova will not return until late May or June because of Tommy John surgery. Michael Pineda has had many incidents since joining the Yankees and has never reached 200 innings.
Cashman is in contact with Hiroki Kuroda, so he is a candidate to give it another go, while the rest of the names on the ledger are David Phelps, Adam Warren, Bryan Mitchell, Manny Banuelos and maybe, eventually, top prospect Luis Severino. There are not a lot of guarantees.
The Yankees should soon hear if Chase Headley is going to return. If not, they are acting as if they prepared to go with Martin Prado at third and rookies Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela at second. The suddenly fragile Mark Teixeira will be at first. The importance of last year's big-money signings (Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Brett Gardner) only grow.
Boras is looking for $200 million or so for Scherzer. It is such a large deal that even Boras termed it an "ownership-level" decision. So it is up to Hal Steinbrenner how much of his money he wants to spend. It is a boatload, but it might be what the Yankees have to do.