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Hiroki Kuroda has been terrific the past two seasons.
The outlook for the 2014 New York Yankees starting rotation is a gloomy one.
The 41-year-old Andy Pettitte has become extremely hittable. Even if he decides to continue his career, New York cannot trust him as anything more than a back-end starter. Phil Hughes, an impending free agent anyway, is a horrible fit for Yankee Stadium, while CC Sabathia still hasn't figured out how to succeed with reduced velocity.
All of that will put added pressure on David Phelps and Michael Pineda, neither of whom have ever come close to a 200-inning season.
Even at age 38, Hiroki Kuroda is a legitimate ace. He cracks the American League's top 10 in earned run average, walk rate and wins above replacement.
There aren't many decent starting options available in 2014 free agency, so the Yankees must convince the Japanese right-hander to stick around for another season, whatever the cost.
Still, what good is retaining a rotation leader if none of his teammates can provide run support?
Hitters already on the books beyond this season—Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki, Mark Teixeira and Vernon Wells—won't necessarily contribute much, as advanced age leads them to decline.
Robinson Cano, on the other hand, can be trusted as a durable power source, and most importantly, he's a second baseman. With MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reporting that Chase Utley has agreed to a contract extension, there won't be another available player at the position with Cano-like value.
After formally filing an appeal of his 211-game suspension, Alex Rodriguez's future is in the hands of an arbiter. Even if his punishment gets reduced, there's a strong possibility that he'll miss a lot of the 2014 season.
Assuming that homegrown David Adams won't be handed the everyday job at third base, the Yankees will be scrambling—and likely overpaying—to replace A-Rod.