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Yankees have 'moderate' interest in Johan Santana

Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets

Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets leaves the game in the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. (April 24, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Yankees' search for starting pitching has led them to look, using a favorite phrase of general manager Brian Cashman, "high and low" for solutions.

Somewhere in between resides Johan Santana.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner, who hasn't pitched in the big leagues since he suffered a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder in 2012 with the Mets, plans to pitch again and no fewer than eight teams, including the Yankees, are at the very least interested in what the former ace has left.

"I haven't looked at his medicals," Cashman said of Santana.

Cashman said he received a call from Santana's agent, Chris Leible, and they agreed to "have a conversation at some point," but just in general about some of the agent's clients and not specifically about Santana.

One source characterized the Yankees' current interest as "moderate," and other teams, such as the Pirates, have progressed to the point of asking for Santana's medical records, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Still, the Yankees even discussing Santana brings back memories of the 2011 offseason when the club, again desperate to fill spots in the rotation, brought in veterans Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon as non-roster invitees. Garcia ended up going 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA and Colon, who agreed to terms with the Mets on Wednesday, went 8-10 with a 4.00 ERA.

Only three spots in the Yankees' 2014 rotation are occupied, with CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova holding them. David Phelps, Adam Warren, Michael Pineda and perhaps Vidal Nuño are expected to compete for the fifth spot.

"I'd rather go the easier route but I don't know if that's going to happen," Cashman said of filling out the rotation. "I might have to go the harder, longer route, but we'll see."

Uncertainty continues to surround the Yankees' top free-agent pitching target, Japanese righthander Masahiro Tanaka. Yozo Tachibana, president of Tanaka's club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, has told reporters here he doesn't know if his organization would post the pitcher.

And sources have said the Yankees currently aren't involved in serious discussions with the high-end starters on the market such as Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza.

Hal Steinbrenner still intends to bring the payroll to $189 million to avoid severe luxury tax penalties and, besides pitching, Cashman still has holes to fill at second and third (and possibly short) and in the bullpen.

"We just want to pull down the best player we can for the money that we have," Cashman said. "Certain areas might be a lot of low-end stuff, high-end in another. I just want to get a collection of the best players we can get."

Notes & quotes: The Rule 5 draft is this morning and Cashman said "we are not going to take anybody." However, the Yankees are almost assured of losing someone not on their 40-man roster, with their biggest concern the unprotected lefthander Freddy Lewis, who pitched in Double-A last season and starred in the Arizona Fall League. Other candidates from the Yankees' system high on other teams' lists who could be taken are RHP Tommy Kahnle and RHP Danny Burawa, a Rocky Point High School graduate . . . Cashman said new strength and conditioning coach Matthew Krause has met with several players, including Derek Jeter. "It sounded like it was all going well," Cashman said.

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