The Yankees have tried to make their starting rotation functional with all of those injuries by acquiring Brandon McCarthy and Jeff Francis, but they know they are going to have to do a lot more in order to be in the playoff picture.
With Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel off the trade market already, the Yankees options aren't as plentiful, but they do have their choices. Here are five starting pitchers that would make sense for them:
1. Cliff Lee, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies:
Lee is a guy the Yankees may like. I'm told they are looking to acquire a starting pitcher that is due to make a lot of money, but wouldn't cost them upper level prospects, as I wrote for Sports Rumor Alert. He is due to make over $50 million over the next two seasons and wouldn't cost the Yankees too much to acquire if they ate a good chunk of his remaining salary. Lee is currently dealing with an elbow injury, but should be back by the end of the month. In only 10 starts this season for the Phillies, Lee has gone 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA and a 61/9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He is the ultimate high risk, high reward trade option at this years trade deadline.
2. Edwin Jackson, RHP, Chicago Cubs:
Jackson is a guy that the Yankees checked in on earlier this week, according to a source (link). He is due to make $11 million each in 2015 and 2016 and is a free agent in 2017. He isn't as talented of a pitcher as Lee is, but he would be an upgrade in the back-end of their rotation. In 18 starts so far this season, he has gone 5-9 with a 5.05 ERA and a 94/45 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
3. Bartolo Colon, RHP, New York Mets:
I have a hard time seeing the Mets helping out the Yankees in their struggling times, but if they wanted to, Colon could be a guy to keep an eye on. John Harper of the New York Daily News was told by a person in the know two weeks ago that Cashman had "no interest" in Colon due to concerns that he'll fade in the second half of the season, but that may change. He has struggled lately, but pitched well on Thursday against the Atlanta Braves. Going into the All-Star break, he's gone 8-8 with a 3.99 ERA and a 89/17 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
4. Ian Kennedy, RHP, San Diego Padres:
Kennedy was traded away by the Yankees to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team trade in 2009 that sent Curtis Granderson to New York. Now with the Padres, he has been pitching well, but not great. If the Yankees were to re-acquire him, he would be a big upgrade in their rotation. In 19 games started this season, Kennedy is 7-9 with a 3.71 ERA and a 125/30 strikeout-to-walk ratio. If he is traded, which appears to be likely at the moment, he should net the Padres a decent return.
5. Cole Hamels, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Hamels has a shot to be traded before the deadline. While it may not be as great as Kennedy or Jackson, he still has a shot to get dealt if general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. gets the right offer, which is no guarantee. Hamel has a 20-team no-trade clause that does not include the Yankees. What that means is that Hamels does not have the ability to block a trade to the Yankees. Landing him would cost the Yankees a lot of money and talented prospects, but if they want to have a legitimate option to replace Tanaka in their rotation, this should be something they should explore.
General manager Brian Cashman told reporters that his team will remain aggressive in the trade market for starting pitchers. If the Yankees come up empty handed, it could be a long second half of the season for the Yankees and their fans.
Follow Robert on Twitter @RobertMurrayMLB