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Ask Pinstripe Alley 10/29/17: What are the Yankees’ plans for Masahiro Tanaka, Todd Frazier, and Jacoby Ellsbury?

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Answers to your Yankees mailbag questions.

Ask Pinstripe Alley

Last week I asked for PSA readers to submit questions to our Yankees mailbag. We received well over a dozen questions. I did my best, but I wasn’t able to get to them all. There’s always a chance that another member of the staff will answer any questions I missed.

Greg asked: Favorite Aaron Judge home run of the year?

Definitely the one he hit against the Twins during the Wild Card game. His reaction was priceless, and that home run put the Yankees ahead just enough to make me feel better about the game.

Mike asked: Judge/Brett Gardner/Aaron Hicks/Clint Frazier...no room for an overpaid/underachieving Jacoby Ellsbury. What's the likelihood of the Yanks parting ways with Ells?

Brian Cashman would ship Ellsbury off to any team that would take him if there were any takers. However, Ellsbury’s contract is ugly. The 34-year-old is signed through 2020 and will earn $21.1 million during each of the next three years. On top of that, Ellsbury has a team option in 2021 with a $5 million buyout.

He only made it into 112 games this year, partially because he was injured and partially because the Yankees simply had better options. With that being said, Ellsbury did heat up towards the end of the season. He hit .337/.436/.477 in 27 games during September. Maybe Cashman could talk a team into a bad contract swap, but if Ellsbury is traded, the Yankees will likely have to eat a large portion of the money left on his deal.

John asked: When must Masahiro Tanaka make his decision regarding his three year option to return to the Yankees?

According to Mike Axisa, Tanaka has until three days after the World Series ends to decide whether he will opt out of his contract. So the good news is that we will know one way or the other very soon. Interestingly enough, last offseason it seemed like a no-brainer that Tanaka would opt out, then the 2017 season happened. Tanaka really struggled in the first half, especially in May when he posted an 8.42 ERA through 31 innings and surrendered 11 home runs. Aside from the occasional bad outing here or there, he was much better in the second half.

If he does opt out of his contract (and the Yankees decide not to pursue him), at least he will have ended his time in pinstripes on a high note. The Yankees really couldn’t have asked for more from Tanaka during their postseason run. He gave up just two earned runs through 20 innings and struck out 18 batters. Now we have to wait to see what happens next.

BlindSquirrelsFindNuts asked: Shohei Otani?

Yes, the Yankees should be all-in if he does end up asking to be posted.

Conner asked: Todd Frazier was an important guy for the Yankees down the stretch and in the playoffs. He's a veteran and most fans and players (seemingly) would like to see him back next year, but with Gleyber Torres possibly ready to come up next year and Chase Headley signed through 2018 is it worth signing him if he's looking for more than a 1-2 year deal?

I would pass on Frazier if he’s looking for anything more than a one-year deal. Maybe he liked playing for the Yankees so much that he will want to stay. However, this will be his first taste of free agency so he presumably will be looking for a big payday. Cashman recently said that he expects Torres to make his debut in 2018 at some point, but not right out of the gates because he has only played 23 games in Triple-A. There’s no need to rush Torres back from his Tommy John surgery (or through Triple-A), so it would make sense for the Yankees to hold onto Headley until his deal expires. Frazier has said he is open to switching positions, but he just doesn’t seem to fit in with the long-term plans of the team.