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Yankees Winter Meetings Preview: Pitching & the Ellsbury problem

ORLANDO – With the Winter Meetings slated to get underway, here’s what we’ll be watching for:

1. Yankees need starting pitching

Super slugger Giancarlo Stanton comes with risk but also potential reward as well. But he isn’t a starting pitcher, and the Bombers still need more to go with Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Sonny Gray and Jordan Montgomery.

CC Sabathia, 37, makes a lot of sense on a one-year deal in the $ 10-12 million range. His leadership is invaluable, and he’s a great clubhouse presence who has learned how to reinvent himself as a veteran pitcher. Plus, he wants to stay.

The Yankees need to bring back CC Sabathia on a one-year deal.

The Yankees need to bring back CC Sabathia on a one-year deal.

(David J. Phillip/AP)

With the acquisition of Stanton (pending a physical) it is possible the Bombers try to move Clint Frazier, the tantalizing outfielder with dynamic potential who is now blocked on several fronts.

Two possible targets: Chris Archer and Gerritt Cole.

The Yankees certainly have the prospect pool, one would think, to acquire either righty.

Free agent Alex Cobb is another target, but he may be too pricey after Tyler Chatwood just got three years and $ 38 million from the Cubs. Chicago, with Tampa ties to Cobb, may also land him as well.

2. How will the Red Sox counter?

Boston, with a lack of power, would’ve liked Stanton, but he landed with its arch-rivals. Now the Red Sox may have to pony up big bucks for Scott Boras clients Eric Hosmer or J.D. Martinez. The Red Sox have also been linked to White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu on the trade front.

It was at the Winter Meetings last offseason when Brian Cashman referred to the Red Sox as the Warriors of Baseball after Boston landed Chris Sale. But it didn’t work out that way, as the Bombers proved to be the better team in 2017 – even if the Red Sox won the AL East.

The Yankees, with their homegrown foundation, won the season series 11-8 and advanced deeper in the postseason. So now we’ll see what Boston has in store as they try to stay with the Evil Empire.

3. What happens with Jacoby Ellsbury?

His contract (three years, $ 68 million) is brutal and he has a no-trade clause (even more brutal). Plus, he’s not starting over Stanton, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks or Brett Gardner. So that makes him like the fifth outfielder, or sixth if you count Frazier.

It stands to reason the Yankees would have to eat a lot of his contract if they were able to find a taker. Ellsbury’s seven-year, $ 153 million deal may wind up the worst free-agent contract in franchise history – if it isn’t already.

The Yankees need to figure out what to do about Jacoby Ellsbury

The Yankees need to figure out what to do about Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract.

(Elsa/Getty Images)

Chase Headley provides versatility and professionalism, but he’s another potential trade candidate to free up additional funds. Headley will be entering the final year of his deal at $ 13 million.

Also of note: Will the Bombers decide to add a second baseman before Gleyber Torres is ready? Or will they go with stop-gaps like Ronald Torreyes or Tyler Wade? Perhaps Torres, MLB.com’s No. 1 overall prospect who is finishing off his rehab from Tommy John surgery on his left shoulder, will win the job out of spring training, himself.

4. A note on Stanton

For as much talk as there has been about Stanton’s on-field impact, his off-field impact could be another reason why the Yankees decided to make this move. Stanton could certainly boost apparel, ticket and ad sales and TV ratings, while boosting the team’s already high profile.

The Bombers print money, and Stanton’s arrival certainly shouldn’t hurt them in that aspect.

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