Yusei Kikuchi
(Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)

The starting rotation was an offseason priority for the New York Yankees and potential Japanese target Yusei Kikuchi is off the market.

Danny Small

According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, prized Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi has agreed to a deal with the Seattle Mariners. This takes another starting pitcher off the market and it looks more and more like the New York Yankees have their starting rotation in place.

Earlier in the offseason, ESNY’s own Josh Benjamin discussed the benefits of pursuing Kikuchi for the Yanks. It’s not clear whether or not the Yankees ever had serious motives to pursue Kikuchi, but once New York signed J.A. Happ, it appeared they were electing to stick with Happ over the incoming Kikuchi.

Along with Happ, the starting rotation consists of Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and the newly acquired James Paxton. Don’t forget about Jordan Montgomery either. The lefty hurler still has a long way to go in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, but he could make a return down the stretch to bolster the rotation.

New York Yankees

Paxton and Happ certainly improve the starting rotation from last season, but the rotation is still a question mark with the inconsistent Severino and an aging Sabathia.

Regardless, the Yankees main focus appears to be on adding another superstar to an already potent lineup. Manny Machado’s recent social media activity sent Yanks fans into a frenzy, but as of New Years Day, Machado has yet to sign on the dotted line for any team.

Bryce Harper is still a possibility for the Yanks although, at this point, the safe money is on Machado to don the pinstripes in 2018.

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