Yankees wheel, deal to clear up rotation picture

Yankees wheel, deal to clear up rotation picture

Yankees wheel, deal to clear up rotation picture
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees are nearly prepared to answer all of the pitching questions that have loomed over their spring, as Brian Cashman's busy off-day cleared up the landscape considerably.

Cashman was able to trigger a deal with the Brewers that deleted right-hander Sergio Mitre from a crowded mix of hurlers, acquiring outfielder Chris Dickerson in a transaction that the general manager characterized as surplus for surplus.

The trade allows the Yankees to freely consider Ivan Nova, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia for assignment to a pair of rotation slots and a long reliever job, and Cashman said that will happen in the very near future.

"We're going to have to make a final decision really soon, because we're breaking camp Tuesday," Cashman said. "I don't want to make a decision until we have to make one, but the schedule's going to force us to make one."

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Nova appeared to have locked up the No. 4 rotation slot even before heading to the mound for his fifth Grapefruit League game on Friday against the Astros, leaving the Yankees to make their calls between Garcia and Colon.

While Colon's numbers outshine Garcia's this spring, the Yankees still have concerns about how many innings they can project from a 37-year-old hurler with a history of injury troubles who has not pitched in the Majors since 2009.

Meanwhile, Garcia worked in a Minor League game on Thursday that the Yankees say did not provide much new information. After 28 starts last year with the White Sox, Garcia may represent the safer bet as a starter.

"I think the decisions we have to make are going to be the projected innings they think they can give us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You have concerns about the amount of innings you think they can give us. Those are things that we have to take into account when making this decision, who's going to be our starters. In saying that, we have to do it fairly quickly."

The Yankees also moved to add depth with another veteran pitcher on Friday, signing right-hander Kevin Millwood to a Minor League contract, pending the results of a physical.

Millwood, 36, was 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA last season for the Orioles, and Cashman said that Millwood has "no chance" of being on the big league roster to start the season. He will have to prove his big league readiness with a stint at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

"I don't know if he can help us or not," Cashman said. "But I'm willing to put a no-risk, possible-reward option that's been on the table the whole time. We'll put him in, get him ready and get him into competition; see if there's anything there. If there is, we'll have some decisions to make. If there's not, nothing ventured, nothing gained."

Millwood could earn $1.5 million if he makes the Major League roster, and he can demand to be released if he is not promoted to New York by May 1.

"Obviously the guy knows how to pitch, he has a number of pitches he can go to, and we got him for some depth," Girardi said. "When you look at all the starters in Triple-A, they're really, really young. Does he push his way into the mix? We won't know, but we do have an experienced guy down there to start the season. You'd like to have a guy with some experience."

The acquisition of Dickerson, 28, will help to provide insurance in case outfielder Curtis Granderson -- mending a strained oblique -- is not ready for Opening Day.

"He's a guy we're definitely going to look at if Granderson can't play," Girardi said. "He has big league experience. He's got tools; I remember seeing him in Cincinnati camp a couple of years ago. The guy's got some tools. He's hit for average in his career, and he can hit some homers too."

Granderson went through light running and agility drills on Friday, but the Yankees are treating Granderson conservatively and do not want him to risk further injury to be in the lineup on March 31 at Yankee Stadium.

"We'll see what's going on with Curtis here on a daily basis," Cashman said. "[Dickerson is] a player who's got options who provides us depth and choices. He's a quality addition that way."

Dickerson is expected to arrive in camp on Saturday, while Mitre figures to be in position to help the Brewers, who have starter Zack Grienke sidelined due to injury.

Cashman said that Brewers GM Doug Melvin had expressed interest in Mitre earlier in camp, but the deal took shape during Thursday's off-day.

"The Dickerson acquisition was a surplus from their end that they could move, and we have a surplus from our end," Cashman said. "It kind of matched up that way."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.