New York Yankees: Three Possible Cliff Lee Back-Up Plans

Kate Conroy@@ladylovespinsSenior Analyst IINovember 8, 2010

MLB free agency has officially started and the New York Yankees have a full plate to say the least.

Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte are no longer officially Yankees. Than there is free agent pitching ace Cliff Lee, along with outfielders Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth—who will be the most sought after players on the market.

Cliff Lee has been on the Yankees “Christmas List” for quite some time and no one in the Bronx is denying that Lee is what they want.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman needs to get the iconic players all squared away before even getting to Lee. The Yankees should overpay, because no one can imagine the Yankees sans the Captain and the Closer, especially the huge and loyal fans. A group that Cashman and co. needs to keep happy as clams, making the above inevitable.

Unfortunately, Lee’s wife did not enjoy her time at the Stadium during the ALCS. A handful of stupid Yankees fans decided to taunt the ace’s Mrs., which was not a smart idea considering the circumstances. Any and every Yankees fan knows that we coveted Lee and that he was finally a free agent at the end of 2010 season. This makes it so hard to comprehend what the hell these fans were thinking. Obviously they were not at all.

What if these contract talks with Jeter do become “messy” and take up a lot more time, money and manpower than anticipated?

When will Southpaw Andy Pettitte decide if he is done with baseball or not? Hopefully, it will be sooner than later. The Yankees are going to need Pettitte more than ever, if for some reason Lee does not sign with New York.

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So, what are the Yankees other options if the Lee deal doesn’t come about?

Do they move onto Crawford or Werth and forget starting pitching as the top priority?

Doubtful because they Yankees are still pretty stacked offensively in Crawford and Werth’s respected positions. Pitching has a necessary void that needs to be filled, considering CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Phil Hughes are going to need some help in the rotation.

Burnett needs to work his butt off before 2011 Spring Training, because having a solid Burnett again could be the difference maker for the team’s success.

Are there any other free agent arms the Yankees have in mind just in case?

Trust in the fact that there is not a pitcher even in the same league as Lee available, but here are three names that would be the next best thing:

Jorge De La Rosa – Doubtful that De La Rosa could resign with the Colorado Rockies but will test the free agent market to see what else is out there. De La Rosa is a solid lefty, finishing the last two seasons with a 4.31 ERA and 306 strikeouts in 306.2 innings of work. De La Rosa frequents the DL way too often, but with the short list of solid starters on the market, he can get a lot more this off-season.

Brandon Webb – Arizona Diamondbacks are not jumping to resign Webb, as he had shoulder surgery that kept him out since beginning of 2009-10 season. Still, Webb a former Cy Young winner before the injury was one of the best righties in the game from 2006-08 and could add nice depth to the back of that rotation. In 2008, Webb finished 22-7 for the season, with a 3.30 ERA, striking out 183 over 226.2 innings pitched. Webb is 31 years old and whether he can get back to two years ago is a risk, but one that could work.

Rafael Soriano – Not a starter, but was easily in the top three closers in baseball the past few seasons. Tampa Bay Rays would love to keep Soriano, but he will join a long list of other players the Rays can’t afford to resign. The Yankees did not pick up Kerry Woods option at $11 million for 2011, but they still could resign Wood at a lower and more reasonable price for his services. Still, if Lee is not going to be in pinstripes than why would the Yankees not throw their money at Soriano and make the bullpen absolutely ruthless and impossible to beat.