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Ask Pinstripe Alley 12/28/17: Jed Lowrie, Miguel Andujar, and international free agency

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We take more of your holiday mailbag questions.

Ask Pinstripe Alley

We ran a holiday edition of the Ask Pinstripe Alley mailbag on Christmas Day. As I mentioned then, you put together the largest number of submissions in recent memory. That means I’m going to take another round of questions this morning. If I missed your topic, don’t feel bad. I wasn’t kidding when I said there was a ton of submissions. Another editor could always give it a spin later in the week.

mitchsam524 asks: How about Jed Lowrie? He has one year left on $6 million contract, plus could play second or third, giving Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar more time to mature.

In many ways, Lowrie would fit perfectly for the Yankees in 2018. The veteran infielder is a career .261/.332/.408 hitter and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. Just last season he posted a .277/.360/.448 triple-slash with 14 home runs. That works out to a quality 119 wRC+. Lowrie won’t give you much pop, but he has a 16.2% strikeout rate on his career. His ability to make contact would diversify the lineup, which is always a plus.

Lowrie also has experience at both second and third base, although he’s not the best gloveman in the business. According to both UZR and DRS, he’s average at the hot corner and a negative at second base. For a one year stopgap, though, a team could do much worse. It’s not like Starlin Castro was winning Gold Gloves either.

As mentioned, he comes at a reasonable price. The fact that it amounts to a one-year deal makes it even better. The Bombers could use Lowrie for the upcoming season, then turn the keys over to Torres or Andujar. If the price is right, the Yankees should be all over him.

Jordan Blackwell asks: For whatever reason, I have this vibe that the Yankees are not as high on Miguel Andujar as some of the fans are? Is his defense that bad, or is it more about them wanting to leave the door open for a potential Manny Machado or Josh Donaldson signing?

While on the topic of infielders, it does seem like Andujar’s popularity with fans grew noticeably in 2017. I suppose going 3-for-4 with four RBI in his big league debut will do that. The fact that he was optioned almost immediately after only stoked the embers. Would that be the case if he struggled at the plate? Probably not. Hardly anyone remembers that Gary Sanchez went 0-for-4 against Chris Sale on May 13, 2016.

The book on Andujar has always been that he has the bat, but his defense needs improvement. If he makes some adjustments with his glove, he could be a legitimate starting third baseman. His offense plays that well. For what it’s worth, Brian Cashman and company seem to trust him enough to trade Chase Headley.

Andujar growing into the hot corner doesn’t mean the Yankees should pass up on Machado though. He’s a generational talent, and I fully expect the team to pursue him next offseason. Donaldson is terrific, don’t get me wrong, but Machado is the prize. A team doesn’t let Andujar stand in the way for that kind of player.

ronjohnson asks: What plans do the Yankees have regarding the money they accrued for a possible Shohei Ohtani signing? They let the best of the Braves minor league free agents sign elsewhere. Is there a Cuban player that they are hoping to sign? Any other ideas on how they can spend this cash?

After missing out on Ohtani, the Yankees have begun to spend the $3.5 million left in their international pool money. Per Ben Badler, the club inked outfielder Raimfer Salinas and catcher Antonio Cabello to deals last week. They’re quite young — 16 and 17, respectively — but Badler notes the pair “...further bolsters one of the game’s strongest farm systems, one that’s already rich in homegrown Latin American prospects.”

It remains to be seen how much of the pool they drew. It’s tough to imagine that they commanded a substantial amount. After all, the Yankees still have interest in Cuban outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez.

Expect them to remain active on the international market as the year continues.

Aidan Ridings asks: Where in the world did Chris Capuano go? Has he gotten any takers this offseason?

Chris, please reach out to your father. He’s worried about you.

In all seriousness, Capuano will headline the Class of 2018 for the Western Massachusetts Baseball Hall of Fame. The program bills him as a “former Major League Baseball pitcher”, so it sounds like he retired. We’ll always have our memories of that crazy transaction history. If this is indeed the end, congratulations on a nifty career!