Thursday, January 9, 2014

All while the Yankees have been getting ready for talks with the prized 25-year-old Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and his agent, Casey Close, they have also been keeping eyes on a couple of backup plans just in case their attempt to sign Tanaka falls through.

One of those pitchers if former Cy Young award winner Johan Santana, sources with knowledge of the situation told Andy McCullough of the NJ Star-Ledger.

Santana missed all of the 2013 season after undergoing shoulder surgery in Spring Training. He's been rehabbing to rebuilt strength in his shoulder, but hasn't thrown off a mound yet. He's expected to throw for teams at some point in Spring Training, and would likely sign a minor league deal to compete for a roster spot.

Santana might not be the top backup plan for Tanaka, but he could be a useful one if he proves to teams that he is healthy, and can perform at least half of the level he was once able to pitch at.

He's missed two for the passes three seasons because of having to undergo the same shoulder surgery twice. He threw the first no-hitter in New York Mets history in 2012, but his body basically broke down after that. During his final 10 starts, his ERA skyrocketed to 8.27, and the organization decided to shut him down that August.

If the Yankees don't get Tanaka, they'll need to find a starting pitcher one way or another, and they have not been showing much interest in the free-agent starting pitching market so far. We might see them go after someone like Ubaldo Jimenez, but only because they would need a starter and would have no other options.

If the Yankees like what they see out of Santana when he throws for teams, they could sign him to a minor league deal and let him compete for one of the final rotation spots in Spring Training. If he can't handle that, then they cut him without anymore problems.

Right now, Michael Pineda, David Phelps, Adam Warren, Vidal Nuno and David Huff would be competing for the final two spots. The Yankees would love to land Tanaka, meaning they would only have to fill the fifth spot internally.

Santana has been drawing interest from a handful of teams, including a pair of his former teams, the Minnesota Twins and Mets.


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