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Yankees take patient strategy in free agency area of need


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For a second straight offseason, the Yankees have taken things slowly.

Last year, that resulted in a mid-December signing of Gerrit Cole.

But after a shortened regular season that led to huge economic losses throughout the sport — including in The Bronx — it remains to be seen just how aggressive the Yankees end up being this winter.

Last month, the sense was that owner Hal Steinbrenner wanted to see what market developed for DJ LeMahieu before committing money elsewhere and LeMahieu remains a free agent.

With or without LeMahieu — who the Yankees still would like to retain — they will need to add depth to their rotation, and there has been some movement with starting pitchers, from one-year deals (Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly in Atlanta) to some smaller multiyear deals (Mike Minor for two years and $18 million in Kansas City).

The Yankees let Didi Gregorius walk a year ago without much of a conversation as they waited on Cole, who they ended up signing for nine years and $324 million.

Masahiro Tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka
Corey Sipkin

“They showed last year they’re not going to rush into anything,’’ one agent said. “Even if it means seeing players they may like go somewhere else.”

This winter, there’s no guarantee that patience will end in a long-term, high-priced deal. Certainly, there’s no one like Cole around and the best pitcher on the free agent market, NL Cy Young award winner Trevor Bauer, doesn’t appear close to signing.

There’s still a chance they could bring back Masahiro Tanaka, but as The Post’s Joel Sherman reported, agents have noted the Yankees haven’t shown much aggressiveness to acquire additional starters.

Behind Cole, the Yankees are currently counting on some combination of Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt and perhaps Mike King before Luis Severino returns from Tommy John surgery.

Domingo German’s future with the organization remains uncertain now that he has been reinstated by MLB after serving his suspension for violating the league’s domestic violence policy. The right-hander is playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic on the same team as Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar, who are also trying to revive their careers.

After the Yankees were knocked out of the postseason — in part because of a lack of quality innings from their rotation — general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged he thought “the starting rotation was at risk … [and] that needs to get improved upon.”

With the Yankees seemingly determined to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold and J.A. Happ and James Paxton gone from last year’s team, they could look at options such as Jake Odorizzi, who the Mets are talking to, or use some of their depth at other positions for a trade.

If they decide to bring Brett Gardner back on a cheaper deal — Gardner remains on the market after the Yankees bought him out for $2.5 million — they would be able to move Clint Frazier.

For now, though, the Yankees are still where they were in October: in need of starters.

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