Because the Boston Red Sox have entered the race for Santana's services—and the Bombers need to do whatever it takes to prevent a Beckett-Santana 1-2 punch in Beantown.
The pool of quality MLB arms seems to diminish every season. This year the talent is so thin that the winter buzz is centered on a guy who isn't even a free agent—and who has a full no-trade clause in his contract.
There's one indisputable fact here: Whoever ends up making a deal for Johan Santana is going to pay dearly.
As usual, the Yankees have the ability to dig deeper than any other team—but this time they're going to have to part with some homegrown talent, instead of just George Steinbrenner's money.
If Santana were heading to the NL, or even to a non-AL East team, it would probably make sense for the Yanks to hang on to Phil Hughes, Jobah Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy. But with Boston looking to land the Twins' ace, it's time for New York GM Brian Cashman to make a move.
The Yankees have plenty of young talent—and as much promise as the Bombers' three young guns have shown, Santana is still young himself.
Cashman will also likely have to part with a young position player like Melky Cabrera or (heaven forbid) Robinson Cano. It's unfortunate, but the Bombers don't exactly have trouble scoring runs, and can afford to lose a couple bats.
What they can't afford, on the other hand, is having to face Josh Beckett and Johan Santana on back-to-back nights several times a season.
If the Red Sox win the Santana sweepstakes, Yankee fans should prepare themselves for a decade of wild card berths.
For years now, the Yankees have had pitching problems that even their fearsome lineup couldn't overcome. Making a deal for Santana could turn that situation around.
In any event, Santana's fate could very well shape the AL East landscape for the next 10 years. It's up to Cashman and Co. to get this deal done—so that the landscape will entail the Yankees comfortably atop the standings, with the Sox in the "also-ran" column.