Yankees need to give the kids a chance in starting rotation

It’s been a quiet opening to the hot stove season in Yankeeland.

Things have been mostly quiet around the majors, for that matter, as the sport waits for a new collective bargaining agreement to be announced.

A couple of old Mets — literally — have represented the big names to sign with new teams, though neither Bartolo Colon nor R.A. Dickey figured to make much sense for a Yankees team that’s in the midst of a youth movement. No harm, no foul.

Brian Cashman has said several times that he plans to have Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda filling the top three spots in the rotation. As of today, that would mean a four-man competition for the final two spots, with Luis Cessa, Luis Severino, Chad Green and Adam Warren fighting it out during spring training.

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That could all change if the Yankees sign a pitcher or two, of course. Free-agent candidates include Rich Hill, Derek Holland and Jason Hammel, all of whom have been linked to the Bombers in some form or fashion during the past week.

But do any of these arms make sense for the 2017 Yankees?

Cashman’s decision last summer to sell off Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran signified a much-needed reset for the Yankees, who had been slogging along in the 84-win range for the past few years.

The influx of young talent was a welcome sign that Cashman — and more importantly, Hal Steinbrenner — were prepared to go through a rebuilding phase of sorts. No, the Yankees aren’t going to settle for any 70-win campaigns, but with a veteran nucleus of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Brian McCann, Chase Headley, Tanaka and Sabathia to go along with young established players such as Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro and Dellin Betances, it’s unlikely that the Yankees would fall so far, so fast.

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My colleague John Harper recently listed Ivan Nova, Hill, Dickey, Colon and Hammel as the top free-agent starters. You can cross Nova off the list — been there, done that — while Dickey and Colon are gone.

That leaves Hill and Hammel as the top arms available, but why add aging arms — Hill will be 37 before Opening Day, while Hammel is 34 — to a team that’s looking to move in the other direction?

Chad Green

Chad Green

(Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Want to roll the dice on Holland (30) or Andrew Cashner (30)? Go for it. Neither figure to cost much, and given their age, perhaps a new setting will help rejuvenate their careers.

But if the Yankees are serious about giving the kids a chance in the lineup this season — and as of today, there’s no reason to believe they’re not — then why not do the same with the rotation?

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Harper projected Hill and Hammel to land three-year deals in the $42-45 million range. Let them find that money in another market.

The Yankees’ top three starters aren’t going anywhere — nor should they — as Tanaka, Sabathia and Pineda will provide stability much in the same way that Ellsbury, Gardner, McCann and Headley will for a lineup that will likely include youngsters Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Aaron Judge.

Cessa and Green showed some promise during their brief stints in the rotation last year, and although Severino was as bad as a starter can be during his 11 starts in 2016, did those outings completely erase the memory of his impressive 11-start stretch the previous year? A year ago at this time, we were talking about Severino the way we’re now talking about Sanchez. To let 11 bad starts turn the 22-year-old Severino into an afterthought would be a crime.

What if Cessa or Green is the next Jose Quintana? In case you’ve forgotten, the Mets released Quintana in 2007, while the Yankees released the lefthander in 2010, then after re-signing him, let him walk as a minor-league free agent in 2011. In five seasons with the White Sox, Quintana is 46-46 with a 3.41 ERA, earning himself a five-year, $21 million deal with a pair of $10.5 million options that will keep him under control through 2020.

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The Yankees have enough on their roster right now to contend for a wild card while nurturing their young players. More help is on the way, too, with prospects Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield and Jorge Mateo moving rapidly through the organization.

Hill will be a nice addition for a team looking for that one final piece. The Yankees are not that team. Give the kids a chance.

Tags:
mlb
new york yankees
jason hammel
derek holland
rich hill

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