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Yankees won't overpay to add to rotation

12/07/2011 7:50 PM ET
By Mike Axisa / RiverAveBlues.com
DALLAS -- Improving the pitching staff continues to be a priority for the Yankees this offseason, but you wouldn't know it based on the lack of free-agent and trade rumors surrounding the team.

GM Brian Cashman has preached patience in a seller's market, something manager Joe Girardi reiterated during his meeting with reporters on Wednesday.

"You always look to improve your club, but sometimes the asking price is too much," Girardi said. "And if that's the case, I do feel good about our rotation. [A pickup] has to make sense for us. We're not just looking for a one-year deal; we're looking long-term as well."

Girardi gushed about the change of pace provided by Freddy Garcia, a savvy junkballer in a rotation of power pitchers. He praised Ivan Nova for taking a step forward in 2011 and emerging as a trusted member of the pitching staff, and he applauded A.J. Burnett for taking the ball every five days without incident.

"Part of it is Phil Hughes. Can he bounce back? Is he going to be able to be the guy we had in 2010? And if he is, to me that's almost like going out and making another move," Girardi explained. "He can be really important to us. I do consider him a big part of our rotation."

Despite all the questions about the team's pitching, the Yankees are willing to pay $8 million of the $33 million left on Burnett's contract in an effort to trade the enigmatic right-hander, according to the New York Post. Girardi wouldn't comment specifically on the report, only repeating that the team is looking at "every avenue" to improve.

Burnett, who turns 35 in January, has pitched to a 5.20 ERA over the last two seasons. The Braves had to pay $10 million of the $15 million left on Derek Lowe's contract to trade the disappointing righty early this winter, and they received only a Single-A reliever in return. That's a pretty good sign that the Yankees won't find much of a market for Burnett, unless they're willing to eat more money.

It also indicates that the club is confident both in its ability to land another starter and in its in-house options.

"We feel we have some pretty good prospects in the Minor Leagues that are going to be able to help us this year," said Girardi. "I'm not afraid to make a move and call a guy up if he can help you."


More from Dallas...

• The Yankees have won the negotiating rights for Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima with a bid worth approximately $2 million. The 29-year-old hit .297 with 16 homers and had 21 steals for the Seibu Lions in 2011, though the Yankees view him as a utility player. The two sides now have 30 days to work out a contract. If no deal is reached, Nakajima will go back to the Lions and the Yankees won't have to pay the $2 million.

• The Miami Marlins continued their free-spending ways by signing veteran left-hander Mark Buehrle to a four-year, $58 million contract. Cashman told reporters that he had nothing more than "early conversations" with Buehrle's camp, and said the organization did not want to offer him more than a two years. The 32-year-old southpaw has made at least 30 starts and thrown 200 innings in each of the last 11 seasons.

• The Yankees' entire coaching staff will return in 2012. Hitting coach Kevin Long and pitching coach Larry Rothschild are in the middle of multi-year contracts, but bench coach Tony Pena, bullpen coach Mike Harkey, first base coach Mick Kelleher and third base coach Rob Thomson were on one-year deals.

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