Yankees’ offseason (Part II): Who stays, who goes, who comes? | BP Mailbag

Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, left, stands next to new Yankee Giancarlo Stanton, center, and his new jersey with Yankee Manager Aaron Boone, right middle, and Yankee Owner Hal Steinbrenner, right, during the Major League Baseball winter meetings in Orlando, Fla., Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.)

It’s been nearly two months since I wrote the first offseason mailbag, and at that time, the Yankees had just been eliminated by the Houston Astros in the ALCS. A few days after that, Joe Girardi was told that he wouldn’t return as New York’s skipper. Looking back, November was simply a month of speculation. For weeks, it appeared as if the Yankees didn’t have Girardi’s successor in mind. The reported prerequisites of their next manager were quite minimal, and the list of candidates who interviewed for the job didn’t really show a pattern. General manager Brian Cashman’s goal was to find a candidate who not only knew the game, but who could also communicate effectively with players and utilize advanced analytics. Ultimately, the man for the job was Aaron Boone, and although this decision was and still is perceived as a risk, the Yankees clearly trust Cashman’s decision, and believe Boone will help the franchise take another big leap forward.

Well, perhaps adding a big bat like Giancarlo Stanton increases the odds. A week after Boone was formally introduced to the media, Cashman made a big splash at baseball’s annual winter meetings. The Yankees’ acquisition of the reigning National League MVP has made them preseason favorites to win the World Series in 2018, but with two months remaining until pitchers and catchers report to Tampa, Fla., the club still has some housekeeping to do.

So with that said, here’s the second offseason edition of BP Mailbag. The questions below involve several hot stove rumors. As always, thanks to those who sent questions, and sorry for any long-winded responses. Well, not really.

Here we go. Oh, and Happy Holidays. 

Answer: Considering that I didn’t expect the Yankees to make a push for Giancarlo Stanton (which was suprising to everyone), I wouldn’t count anything out at this point. However, the odds of Baltimore dealing Manny Machado within the division to the rival Yankees are extremely (and I mean extremely) low. It just wouldn’t make sense on either end. Seldom do both teams do business, and Baltimore’s owner, Peter Angelos, would probably receive a great deal of scrutiny for allowing general manager Dan Duquette to make such a move. Even if the Yankees can offer the best possible package of prospects for Machado, that price alone would be quite steep, and with Machado eligible for free agency next winter, it’s best for New York to pass on a deal. If they wait 11 or 12 more months, they could acquire him without yielding any valuable farmhands. If Baltimore is not inclined to bring Machado back, he should be dealt sometime this year. But as a one-year rental, it wouldn’t be good business for the Yankees. Hard pass. 

Same can be said about Josh Donaldson and the Blue Jays. He’ll be a free agent next winter, too. Evan Longoria can be crossed off the list as well, since he was traded to the Giants on Wednesday morning. Chris Archer of the Rays is still in play, although the price would probably be a little higher since he has two more years remaining on his contract. Also figure that Marcus Stroman will be expensive, since he’s the Blue Jays’ best starter — plus he’s young. Trading within the division can work on occassion, but would the Yankees be comfortable with moving youngsters to rival clubs? Doubt it. The price would have to be highly suitable.

Answer: I’m not quite sure where the Yankees stand in regard to Todd Frazier or Eduardo Nunez, but there have been some rumblings over the last week or so. My best guess is that Frazier is in search of a multi-year deal worth some decent money. But if he and the Yankees are open to a one/two-year deal at a hometown discount, it wouldn’t hurt. Frazier’s a Jersey guy, and I bet he would consider an offer like that. It also seems like he’s open to any role in the field, and that versatility is valuable. In the previous mailbag, I couldn’t picture the Yankees bringing Frazier back, but if the club isn’t confident in Miguel Andujar’s ability to start there in April, for example, why not try to bring Frazier back? He’s a clubhouse guy, and the Yankees’ success in 2017 was largely due to team chemistry. Nunez could play third and second base, but Gleyber Torres seems primed for the middle infield now, barring any injuries or setbacks. I also don’t think the Yankees would want Josh Harrison. If not Frazier, maybe give the younsters a chance. 

Answer: It all depends on if the Yankees would be willing to move him in a package for something bigger. More on that below. 

Answer: Personally, I would pull the trigger on a deal for Gerrit Cole, even if it requires the Yankees to deal Clint Frazier and another top prospect like a Chance Adams, for example. Frazier is young and has plenty of upside, but with Aaron Judge and Stanton as locks in the outfield (also factor in Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, and Jacoby Ellsbury), there aren’t many openings in the outfield. By no means do I think that Frazier is a bust. He has the tools, and I think he could be a star in the majors. But the Yankees seem to be high on Estevan Florial, another touted outfield prospect. Perhaps they believe Florial is the outfielder of the future, and not Frazier. If that’s the case, I doubt Frazier would be untouchable. But in the end, it comes down to who the Yankees would receive in a trade. I believe a team should stock up/assemble their farm system with the intent of moving prospects for a bigger piece if an opportunity presents itself. Cole’s one of those pieces, in my opinion. Tigers’ starter Michael Fulmer is, too, but I imagine his price would be considerably higher. 

Answer: I think Dellin Betances is fair game in a trade package. He was a shell of himself in 2017, as he had no control of his fastball. He also relied on his breaking ball way too much, and that made him rather predictable on the mound. After his performance in the playoffs, I think a lot of fans were tired of him, but with a new coaching staff in place, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees press the reset button and try to discover if Betances can return to his old form. When Betances is on, he’s on. His issues lasted all season, but it’s probably safe to assume the Yankees give him a second chance. After all, Betances is still under contract for two more seasons. With where he stands now, the Yankees would be selling low. Hold on to him and see if he finds his groove. 

Answer: I just can’t envision Ellsbury leaving New York, and that’s because he has a full no-trade clause in his contract. Ellsbury controls the entire situation here. Over the next three years, he’s owed $68 million, and although that’s another problem the Yankees face (since they’re trying to shed more payroll), they simply can’t move Ellsbury without his approval. That’s the biggest issue. Ellsbury’s agent, Scott Boras, recently told the media that Ellsbury is eager to play in New York with this particular group. If that’s the case, it says enough. However, we’re also assuming that Ellsbury knows what his future role will be. If he believes the Yankees will make him an everyday player, that just won’t be the case. If he realizes that, then maybe he would approve a trade to a team that would have an opening in their starting lineup. But, how much money would the Yankees eat? How much money would another team eat? I wouldn’t say it’s a guarantee that Ellsbury lives out the rest of his contract in the Bronx, but it looks pretty likely. 

The Yankees and Diamondbacks have held some trade discussions, but reports have stated that Arizona didn’t show any interest in Ellsbury. On the other hand, New York is intrigued by Patrick Corbin, and he would be a good fit. In his five major league seasons, he hasn’t been a dominant lefty, but he’s a low risk, high reward option. Plus, he’s another one-year rental. Figure the Diamondbacks wouldn’t be asking for much in return. There are some better arms on the market, but Corbin isn’t a bad choice. Count Ellsbury out, though. 

Answer: The Yankees could use first base insurance since they traded Chase Headley back to San Diego last week, but I don’t think Adrian Gonzalez is the solution. He’s 35, washed up, and injury-prone. Gonzalez would be cheap, but not sure how much production the Yankees would receive from him. Not a bad idea, but not a move worth making. Yankees are crossing their fingers that Greg Bird is healthy all season. If he isn’t, maybe Tyler Austin sees some time at first, who knows. Anyway, I’d pass on Gonzalez. Not a good fit. 

Answer: My gut says that the Yankees will give Gleyber Torres a chance. A number of executives reportedly felt he was major league-ready last year before he underwent Tommy John surgery. I don’t know if Cashman feels the same way about Torres, but with Starlin Castro now in Miami, the void at second base should probably be filled by baseball’s top prospect. Unless Torres plays poorly in spring training, why not call him up? Sure, the Yankees could wait until June or July and let him see a reasonable amount of time at the Triple-A level. But if he can offer more than a platoon of Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade, why wait? Like I said earlier, barring any injuries or setbacks, my best guess is that Torres is on the major league roster in April. That second baseman doesn’t need to be someone who’s proven he can hit big league pitching. Unless the Yankees want to sign a free agent infielder, it’s going to be one of those three aforementioned names playing there. There’s no rush to call Torres up, but it also wouldn’t hurt to try him out. 

Answer: Of all the hot stove rumors, this one definitely takes the cake. Over the weekend, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe touched on this in his Sunday Baseball Notes column. I don’t think the rumor is ridiculous, but what’s the point? Sure, the Dodgers seemed to be the right fit for Stanton (who’s a California guy), but if he plays well in New York and helps the club in another postseason run, why would the Yankees want to deal him away after one season? I could see Stanton opting out in 2020, but to move him just so there’d be an opening for Bryce Harper doesn’t add up in my mind. Maybe the rumors of the Yankees’ love for Harper are true, and maybe they’ll pursue him next winter when he’s a free agent. But with Stanton, there isn’t a need for Harper. There’d be more of a need for a player like Machado. Never say never, but this is silly — even if the Yankees’ relationship with Stanton turns out to be relatively short. 

If you want to connect with Tom Hanslin, email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @tomhanslin.

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