If all it took for Brian Cashman to land stud free-agent pitchers was a boarding pass from New York to meet the hurler on his turf, the Yankees’ rotation would be drowning in aces instead of searching for one.
It takes an ocean of money and a long-term commitment most teams don’t even fantasize about. Then New York and all it entails for an athlete comes into play.
Yet, if Cashman and other Yankee staffers flying to Southern California, where they were expected to meet with Gerrit Cole on Tuesday and Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday, has the same result a similar visit 11 years ago had, the Yankees could land the ace they lacked this season when the Astros deleted them from the ALCS in six games.
In 2008 the winter meetings were in Las Vegas, and CC Sabathia sat atop the market for free-agent starters. Like Cole and Strasburg, Sabathia was in his prime, having gone 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 17 starts for the Brewers to lead them into the postseason after being dealt from the Indians that season. Overall Sabathia went 17-10 with a 2.70 ERA and threw 253 innings in 35 starts.
While Sabathia knew the Yankees were armed with a seven-year contract for $161 million, there was…