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Yankees May Look To Get John Lackey, Not Roy Halladay, After Three-Team Trade

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst IDecember 9, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 08:  Starting pitcher John Lackey #41 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim delivers against the Boston Red Sox in the first inning of Game One of the ALDS at Angel Stadium on October 8, 2009 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

By now, everyone has heard that the Yankees made a three-way deal with the Tigers and Diamondbacks to acquire centerfielder Curtis Granderson for 2010.

This deal almost ensures the Yankees have found their new permanent fixture in centerfield, and it could mean Melky Cabrera might be on the trading block now.

With this trade, you also have to wonder if the Yankees will be big players for Roy Halladay like they were rumored to be.

The Yankees today dealt one of their best prospects in outfielder Austin Jackson, plus major league-ready pitchers in Ian Kennedy and Phil Coke.

Dealing away a young prospect like Jackson means the Yankees have one less prospect and a couple less young pitchers that they could use in a deal for Halladay.

So if the Yankees don't have what the Blue Jays want in a deal, or if they don't have enough to give Toronto, they could simply keep their players and look elsewhere.

And looking elsewhere means looking into the free agent market.

It's already been announced that Andy Pettitte wants to return for 2010 for the Yankees, so a contract for Pettitte is imminent, which will fill up a rotation spot.

John Lackey's name has been mentioned and been linked to the Yankees because he is the biggest name on the free agent market for starting pitching and they can afford him.

He's looking for an A.J. Burnett-like contract (Burnett got five years and $82.5 million) but because of the economy and the market not being as good as it once was, Lackey may not get as huge of a contract as he hopes.

If Lackey is still sitting out there and has not been signed, he might need to drop his asking price.

But a team like the Yankees has the type of money to come close to Lackey's asking price, which might be intriguing enough for him to jump at the chance to sign.

The Angels said they would love to have Lackey back, but at their price. The Angels are known for not overspending to keep their own players. They let Francisco Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira go last season because they weren't willing to bid any higher.

They've already lost their lead-off man, Chone Figgins, to their rivals in the Mariners because they didn't want to fork out the money, and if they aren't careful, Lackey is soon to follow.

The chances of the Angels re-signing Lackey would be lessened if rumors of their pursuit of leftfielder Jason Bay are true. Right now, it seems like the Angels could be the front runners to land Bay for his asking price.

The Red Sox and Rangers have also been rumored to be interested in Lackey.

But the Rangers are in such financial trouble that their owner, Tom Hicks, may need to sell the team, so trying to add on a big-time contract player like Lackey might not be the best thing for Texas right now.

Now there is Boston, who has a rotation of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, and their youngest member, Clay Buchholz. Buchholz is the main pitcher everyone wants in a trade, but Boston has been rather reluctant to deal away its young prospect who has already thrown a no-hitter in his young career.

So if the Red Sox keep Buchholz, they aren't going to exactly have room for Lackey.

This basically leaves the Yankees. They have two spots open, with two young pitchers who can easily be made into relievers in Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain; some actually feel that Joba should be a reliever and not a starter anyway.

Either way, if the Yankees have the money to use, they should look into getting Lackey because he would be an excellent second starter behind CC Sabathia, moving A.J. Burnett into the No. 3 spot and Andy Pettitte to the No. 4 spot, and if he is still on the team, Hughes can come back and learn to be a starter in the fifth spot.

Lackey just turned 31, so the Yankees would be giving another 30-plus-year-old pitcher another big time contract, but he has been one of the most durable and consistent pitchers since his rookie year in 2002.

Lackey's playoff experience would be a major plus over trying to trade for Halladay for a year; Lackey has pitched in 14 postseason games for the Angels with three wins and a ton of no decisions with an ERA of 3.12. His biggest game was his win in Game Seven over the Giants in the 2002 World Series as a rookie.

So now the Yankees have a big decision to make.

Do they still want to pursue Halladay and risk trying to trade the rest of their top prospects like Jesus Montero or Austin Romine, or trade some of their major league-ready pitching like Chamberlain or Hughes, or do they hang on to all of those players and attempt to sign Lackey for a big contract?

If the recent past tells us anything, Brian Cashman might pass on Halladay like he did with Johan Santana two years ago and spend the money on Lackey.

And getting Lackey to add to a rotation of Sabathia, Burnett, and Pettitte would only make the World Champions' pitching staff even stronger.

So, Brian, it looks like your best option is to keep the prospects and sign the best pitcher on the market, because like last year, he's another guy who is worth the investment.

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