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What do the Yankees do next after missing out on Yoshinobu Yamamoto?

New York couldn’t pull off its second huge move of the winter. Where will Brian Cashman and Co. pivot from here?

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman speaks to the media during the MLB General Manager’s Meetings at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s official: The dream of Operation #YamaSoto has been dashed. Despite an apparent full-court press from Brian Cashman and Co., the New York Yankees missed out on coveted free agent Yoshinobu Yamamoto, with the Japanese ace instead choosing to sign with the Dodgers on a 12-year, $325 million deal. It’s a tough pill to swallow for the team and its fans, who had reason to believe they were frontrunners for the best pitcher remaining on the market — a guy whose age (just 25) and frontline stuff made him the perfect fit behind Gerrit Cole.

But while we forgive fans for not necessarily reaching the acceptance stage yet, Hot Stove season leaves very little time for mourning. The pitching market is now wide open, and Cashman now has even more work to do if he hopes to get New York back to the playoffs after a dismally disappointing 2023 season. With Yamamoto gone elsewhere, what’s the Yankees’ Plan B? How can Cashman best pivot, and who might he target in the days and weeks to come? Let’s break it down.

What should Yankees do next after missing Yoshinobu Yamamoto?

Go all-in for Jordan Montgomery

The No. 1 priority for this roster becomes even clearer: Go get reliable starting pitching help. Right now, New York’s rotation stands to be Cole, Carlos Rodon, Nestor Cortes Jr., Clarke Schmidt and some combination of Luis Gil, Yoendrys Gomez or high-Minors prospects Will Warren and Clayton Beeter — not the most inspiring group, considering Rodon and Cortes’ struggles in 2023.

The Yankees need a proven commodity, another anchor to slot behind Cole and eat up solid innings. Montgomery fits that bill perfectly: The lefty doesn’t have the upside of Yamamoto, but he’s a rock solid No. 2 or No. 3 who fits well in Yankee Stadium, knows the AL East very well and has proven awfully durable over the last few years. Miss out on Montgomery, and all of a sudden Cashman finds himself taking a shot on a risky bounce-back candidate like Lucas Giolito or giving up players of value on the trade market.

Trade Gleyber Torres for pitching

Of course, one look at the list of pitchers above makes clear that the Yankees don’t need just one arm; they need several, given how hard it is to trust Rodon and Cortes to be healthy and effective for all or even most of 2024. They’ve already shipped off most of their pitching depth in the trades for Soto and Alex Verdugo, but there’s one prominent trade chip remaining: Torres, who’s leveled out as a good — but not great — starting second baseman and is set to hit free agency next winter. If the Yankees really do believe in Oswald Peraza’s. potential, now is the time to prove it by flipping Torres as part of a package for a starting pitcher. (Maybe the Marlins still have interest in a Torres for Edward Cabrera swap?)

Sign Donovan Solano

Even if Torres stays put, this infield needs one more MLB-caliber player on the bench; we saw last year what happened when injury struck DJ LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo. The Yankees don’t need a star here, but they could use proven big-leaguer with multi-positional versatility to plug holes wherever they arise. Luckily, there’s just such a player on the market, and he’s been with the organization before: former Giants, Reds and Twins infielder Donovan Solano, who spent 2016 and 2017 with the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate. Solano won’t set the world on fire, but he’s a professional, contact-oriented hitter capable of spraying line drives — and, most importantly, he can play any of first, second or third base in a pinch.