After getting spurned by top free agents from Cliff Lee to Carl Crawford and failing to make a trade for an impact arm such as Zack Greinke, the New York Yankees currently sit as a team that is certainly no better than last year's version, and may be even worse.
If the Yankees cannot entice longtime great Andy Pettitte out of retirement, the rotation could feature multiple minor leaguers and castaways.
Because of this, it is likely that the Yankees will need to make a move for an impact arm. Although a move may have to wait until during the season, in honor of the holidays, here is a Yankee wish list of top arms they will look to acquire.
The on- and off-the-field antics of Carlos Zambrano are well documented. His fiery persona does not limit itself to the mound and often spills over into the dugout and the locker room.
Despite this, Zambrano is still a very high-quality arm and his familiarity with Yankees' pitching coach Larry Rothschild makes him an intriguing option. He may be the most realistic option for the Yankees on this list as his price tag would not be very high.
Zambrano has never had an ERA over 4.00 for a season, and when he is on, he is a strikeout machine with All-Star potential. He could be a very nice fit for the Yanks—if being on a new team triggers some kind of attitude change.
The ace closer of the Kansas City Royals, Soria, has been the topic of trade conversations for at least a year now. On more than one occasion, those conversations have been about sending Soria to the Yankees.
However, there have been heavy rumblings that Soria would block any trade to the Yankees, but I do not think this puts the Yanks completely out of it; it just make it a little more difficult.
It is possible that Soria will eventually tire of the losing culture in Kansas City, something even more likely to persist with the departure of Zack Greinke. If Soria does give in on his preference to not play in New York, he could give the Yanks the ace eighth-inning man they need for an extended playoff run.
If Cashman could pull a backdoor move for Soria, he could quietly push the Yankees right back into the elite.
Matt Garza has been an excellent pickup since coming over to the Rays from the Minnesota Twins and has blossomed into one of the more electrifying pitchers in the American League East.
However, as is often the problem in Tampa, Garza's contract runs out soon and he is likely to be too expensive for the Rays to re-sign. Because of this, he has been rumored to be on the move and the Yankees, as always, are a possibility.
The Rays would certainly not be inclined to hand Garza over to a division rival, but if the Yankees make the best offer, they may have to make a deal. Garza would solidify the top three of the Yankees rotation, assuming Pettitte does not return, and overall would add depth to the staff.
Josh Johnson is easily one of the best young pitchers in baseball, and, despite some health problems, looks like a real ace for years to come.
Although Johnson recently signed a short extension with the Florida Marlins, it has been the nature of the franchise to trade its young talent at its highest point of value. If the Marlins fall out of contention early this year, this may be the top name we see talked about on the trade market.
If it does come to this, the Yankees would sure to jump all over it and work aggressively to try and acquire the young ace. Johnson would fit in beautifully as a No. 2 right now behind C.C. Sabathia, and long-term would look like a good 1-2 with Phil Hughes.
The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner has been labeled as unlikely to be on the move, however, it is easier to say that in December when everyone's record is the same.
The Mariners have yet to prove that they have the franchise moving in the right direction, and who knows how patient Felix will be if the Mariners do not prove they can compete soon.
It may come to a point where the Mariners need to trade Felix and once again start over remaking this franchise. If the Yankees could land Felix, it would be a huge momentum shift in an offseason that has so far been filled with disappointment after disappointment.
It may be wishful thinking, but hey, it's the holidays and I can't think of a better time for these kinds of thoughts.