In their search for another starting pitcher, the Yankees are holding serious trade talks on multiple fronts, a person familiar with the situation said.
Atlanta has made starting pitchers Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez available, although the Braves have indicated a far greater willingness to trade Lowe - who has three years and $45 million remaining on his contract - than former Yankee Vazquez, who has only one year left (at $11.5 million) and put up a better 2009 season than did Lowe.
During the 2008-09 offseason, the Yankees ranked Lowe second on their preference chart. Lowe's high salary demands, along with a concern about his inability to miss bats, led the Yankees to sign A.J. Burnett instead.
Florida has been unable to sign ace Josh Johnson to a long-term extension, and although Marlins general manager Michael Hill has said he will start the 2010 season in Florida, Marlins officials have reversed course on other players.
Kansas City, in a cost-cutting mode, has made Gil Meche available. The righthander is due $12 million each of the next two seasons. Pittsburgh could deal Paul Maholm, who has $4.5 million owed to him in 2010 and $5.75 million in 2011, with a $9.75-million club option or $750,000 buyout for 2012.
A few weeks ago, the Yankees asked the Cubs about ace Carlos Zambrano, but the Yankees would've made such a trade only if the Cubs paid some of the freight. The righthander is owed $53.75 million through 2012, with a $19.25-million vesting option attainable for 2013.
The talks never advanced to a serious level, and Barry Praver, Zambrano's agent, released a statement reading, "Jim [Hendry, the Cubs' general manager] has not approached us about Carlos waiving the no-trade provision of his contract, nor is Carlos interested in waiving it.''
After deploying a three-man rotation during the entire 2009 postseason, the Yankees have considered the addition of a veteran starter one of their most important goals. Once they brought back Andy Pettitte to team up with CC Sabathia and Burnett again, they lowered their targets from free agent John Lackey and trade target Roy Halladay to someone less expensive.
If the Yankees do complete a transaction for a veteran starter, they can project either Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes as a setup man to Mariano Rivera. They still could prepare both to start and then see who pitches better in spring training.