In 2012, the starting rotation was very good, and in the playoffs, it was outstanding.
Brian Cashman knows the importance of having a solid rotation, and for the third year in a row, he'll be scouring the market for starters.
Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte are on the free agent market. Pettitte will either choose to pitch for the Yankees again or retire, so he's not as much of an issue, although he would be great to have back in 2013.
Now Kuroda is a different story. He had a solid 2012 and really built up his value and could get a raise from the $10 million he got last year.
What if a team decides to offer more money and years to him? There's no guarantee that Kuroda will take whatever offer the Yankees give him to stay, although in a perfect world, that would be fantastic.
So what if Kuroda signs elsewhere for 2013? The Yankees need an answer, and I have a suggestion: Cliff Lee.
I've been on the Cliff Lee train for three years now. I wanted the Yankees to trade for him back in July of 2010. I wanted the Yankees to sign him as a free agent in the winter of 2010-11. And then, I even wanted the Yankees to try and trade for him this past summer.
Never mind the 6-9 record he posted in 2012. Instead, look at the 3.16 ERA, the 211 innings pitched, the 207 strikeouts and just 28 walks. It's one of the rare cases where a record doesn't matter.
Adding Lee wouldn't be cheap. He's still on hook for another three guaranteed years and $75 million, plus an vesting option for a fourth season worth $27.5 million.
But if the Yankees really want someone like Lee, all they have to do is take the contract off the Phillies hands, although I think they'd look for some players in a return deal.
Lee is also 34, but he still continues to show some of the greatest control on the mound in the game and pairing him with CC Sabathia would make a nice 1-2 punch in the rotation.
The Phillies placed Lee on waivers, but decided to pull him back after the Los Angeles Dodgers claimed him this past summer. The Phillies Gm Ruben Amaro knew he could probably get more out of a deal for Lee in the winter.
It's a long shot that Cashman goes for Lee, but he would be making up for the free agent that got away from him two years.