The New York Yankees have publicly stated that pitching is their main priority this offseason. If they weren't actually desperate in that department, would they have signed CC Sabathia to a five-year, $122 million extension?
Given the dearth of pitching options on the free-agent market, the Yankees might be forced to deal for a pitcher.
New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman told the New Jersey Star Ledger that it's too early in the offseason to know whether a trade or a signing makes the most sense, but there aren't any free agents this year better than the San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum.
Although Lincecum's K/9 hit a career-low of 9.1 in 2011, the Freak posted better numbers overall than he did in 2010—if you throw record out the window. The two-time Cy Young sported a 2.74 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and .222 BAA.
He's only 27 years old, so a lot would be required to pry him away from the Giants. However, the Yankees need starters, and if they can't sign one of the few decent options on the market, they might be willing to send over a handful of young talent.
Jesus Montero, the Yankees' most heralded prospect, would have to be the centerpiece of the deal. San Francisco is set behind the plate with Buster Posey, but Montero could adjust to first base, taking over for Aubrey Huff.
The Giants also need a shortstop, and the Yankees' Eduardo Nunez has to be expendable for Lincecum. While Nunez needs to improve his fielding, he's a capable hitter when given consistent playing time.
Although Gio Gonzalez anchored the Oakland Athletics' rotation with a 16-12 record and 3.12 ERA, most teams don't view him as anything better than a No. 3 starter—No. 2 at best—down the road. He should be a cheaper trade option than Tim Lincecum.
According to this post on MLBTradeRumors.com, Oakland knows it probably won't contend in 2012, so Billy Beane might prefer to trade for young talent that could develop by the time the franchise potentially relocates.
While Oakland would gladly accept Jesus Montero, the New York Yankees probably wouldn't need to deal their prized catching prospect. The organization has two other catchers—Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez—on MLB.com's Top 10 list of backstops, and Oakland would probably take either in a deal for Gonzalez.
Again, Eduardo Nunez could be a possible trade chip because of his ability to hold down three infield positions—short, second and third.
The Yankees also have some other young talent in their farm system, including outfielder Slade Heathcott and shortstop Cito Culver.
Atlanta wants a shortstop and power in the outfield. Two Yankees that come to mind: Eduardo Nunez and Nick Swisher.
Nunez isn't a slick fielder yet, but he's a decent hitter with offensive potential.
Although the Yankees just picked up a one-year option on Swisher, they'd be willing to deal their right fielder if they feel confident in Jurrjens' health—he's struggled with knee injuries the past two seasons.
Swisher, who has never hit fewer than 20 home runs in a full season, belted 23 in 2011 while also driving in 85 runs. His .260 average leaves a lot to be desired, but he also posted a very respectable .374 OBP—no wonder Billy Beane drafted him.
According to a Jim Bowden tweet, Houston Astros GM Ed Wade will listen to all offers for Wandy Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is somewhat pricy for a No. 3 caliber starter—he's due $23 million over the next two years and could receive another $13 million in 2014 depending on his performance—but, if the Yankees can't land any other starters, he's a decent option.
In 2011, Rodriguez went 11-11 with a 3.49 ERA and 1.31 WHIP.
In August, the Colorado Rockies claimed Rodriguez off waivers, but the deal died when Colorado adamantly opposed trading Wilin Rosario and Drew Pomeranz. This gives us a hint of what Houston wants: a catcher and a pitcher.
The Yankees have a bevy of young catchers, including Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez and Francisco Cervelli. They wouldn't swap Montero for Rodriguez, but the others might be options, especially if Brian Cashman becomes desperate to land another starter.
With pitchers Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances likely off the table, the Yankees still have a few pitching prospects that might be of interest to Houston. The Yankees would certainly consider trading Adam Warren and David Phelps.