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Ask Pinstripe Alley 1/15/18: Starlin Castro reunion, extension cases for Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge

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The first mailbag of 2018 has arrived!

Ask Pinstripe Alley

Last Wednesday, I put out a call for mailbag questions. You responded in a big way, sending over a dozen questions! The slow offseason sure didn’t stop you. I’m going to take a swing at a few this afternoon. If I didn’t get to yours, don’t feel bad. Keep sending questions and another editor may answer them later in the week.

jwalk09 asks: I am hearing Starlin Castro wants out of Miami now. With the Marlins wanting to shed salary and the Yankees possibly needing another infielder what are the chances this will be talked about? Productive player in the Bronx with a fairly affordable contract, I definitely wouldn’t be sad to see him back!

According to various reports, Castro wants the Marlins to trade him. He isn’t interested in playing through another rebuild. Should he find himself on the trading block again, the Yankees seem to be a logical partner. Don’t get your hopes up, though. The odds of a reunion are slim.

The Yankees moved Castro for a reason. Not only did he offset some of the cost of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, but he also made way for Gleyber Torres. Brian Cashman seems adamant about playing the top prospect at second base this season. Given Castro’s lack of flexibility on the infield, bringing him back would prevent Torres from making the greatest possible impact. By all accounts, he’s far better up-the-middle than at the hot corner.

I liked Castro more than most, but I think that era is over. The Marlins will want good prospects in return, and that contract doesn’t jive with the luxury tax plan. If the Yankees want a veteran infielder, they can find a cheaper and more expendable one.

jliggitt1 asks: Does adding Stanton make it almost impossible to lock up Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez long term? Wouldn’t most teams get those two young superstars into long-term deals now?

When the Yankees landed Stanton, they inherited his massive contract. Not counting a team option in 2028, he’s owed $285 million. Of course he could always opt out following the 2020 season, but let’s assume Stanton sticks around. I don’t think that his contract will prohibit the Yankees from paying their homegrown stars, though.

Granted, the team doesn’t have the best track record in this area. For example, the organization let Robinson Cano walk as a free agent. Then, just last year, the club took Dellin Betances to a contentious arbitration hearing. Admittedly, recent history shows that the team will pay top dollar for free agents but not their own players.

On the other hand, these moves occurred under the shadow of the luxury tax. If the Yankees clear that threshold this season, they can, in theory, increase their spending power. Then one would expect there will be enough money to go around for everyone. While extensions would be great, it’s still too early. They’re in their pre-arbitration years so there’s no rush yet.

HighFlyers28 asks: Do you think Mike Mussina finally gets elected into the Hall of Fame this year, and if so is it an Oriole or Yankee cap?

I do think Mussina makes it to Cooperstown, but just not this year. Moose received 51.8% of the vote last year, and appears trending in the right direction. That’s up from 43% in 2016. He’s trending in the right direction and figures to reach the 75% mark eventually. The ballot is unfortunately too crowded right now.

As for his cap, it has to be Orioles, right? Mussina was great with the Yankees, pitching to a 3.88 ERA over 1553 innings. He anchored the rotation during some pretty ghastly years for the pitching staff. With Baltimore, however, he was among the league’s finest. He logged a 3.53 ERA across 2009.2 innings. His 1992 campaign was nothing short of dominant. Mussina’s time in pinstripes helped with the longevity part of his Hall of Fame case, but his career in Baltimore counts for the peak.

For those of you interested in Mussina’s journey to Cooperstown, I recommend following our old friend Andrew Mearns on Twitter. He’s keeping track of all public ballots that included the right-hander. The #Moose4Hall tag is a must read.