On Sunday I put out a call for Yankees mailbag questions. Since then, you came through with nearly a dozen questions. I’m going to take a swing at a few of them this afternoon. As always, don’t feel bad if I didn’t get to your topic. Another editor can always pick it up later in the week!
TheJRod2006 asks: If Russell Wilson retired from the NFL today and declared that he wanted to be a successful baseball player, how long would it take for him to become a realistic option for the Yankees at the major league level?
Wilson, 29, spent a week in camp with the Yankees at the beginning of the month. By all accounts he was well received by the team. He put on some impressive power displays in batting practice and even made his way into a game, where he struck out in his only at-bat.
Russell Wilson taking BP. After rough first go-round, here three of the balls leave the yard pic.twitter.com/iwZMrRV5LF— Erik Boland (@eboland11) February 26, 2018
If Wilson hypothetically decided to retire from football, he would remain under team control by the Yankees. Technically speaking he would receive an assignment to Double-A Trenton. That said, as a second baseman, his path to the majors would be a long and difficult one. The Yankees have a wealth of middle infield prospects. He would be blocked by the likes of Gleyber Torres, Tyler Wade, and Thairo Estrada, to name a few.
If he focused exclusively on baseball, I’m sure Wilson would have some degree of success at the big leagues. He is that freakishly athletic. Unfortunately, it would take way too long before he becomes a possibility in New York. Besides, the Seahawks need him far more than the Yankees do.
imramet asks: Of all the fringe players (guys not expected to make the roster this season), who impressed you the most so far in spring training and why? Could be negative impression, I suppose.
When it comes to batting, Billy McKinney quickly comes to mind. He’s been on fire this spring. In fact, Kunj Shah wrote about him earlier today. How about Kyle Holder, though? The 23-year-old has hit .400/.438/.533 across 15 at-bats in Grapefruit League action. Holder has always had the glove, the question has been if his bat could play at a high level. After a successful run in the Arizona Fall League, it looks like he might be coming into his own. The Yankees have a ton of infield depth as it is, but could a strong spring be a trade showcase?
On the downside of fringe candidates, Giovanny Gallegos has looked terrible. He owns a 4.15 ERA over 4.1 innings. This is more of the same from the right-hander, who tossed 20.1 innings of 4.87 ERA ball with the big league team last season. It’s still very early, but Gallegos isn’t endearing himself to anyone with these showings.
mmegalla asks: With the Yankees hesitant to spend any more money in the free agent market, they clearly have an eye on leaving room in the budget for trade deadline acquisitions. Obviously injury and performance will be the biggest factors in terms of what they do at the deadline, but who do you think could be realistic targets to trade for midway through the season?
Hal Steinbrenner addressed the budget situation recently, and unsurprisingly, he suggested the Yankees may just hold off on spending until the trade deadline.
Hal Steinbrenner today at ML complex on luxury tax: "It’s absolutely my goal, still, to stay under the threshold. And we’ve got a good deal of breathing room right now and we’re not afraid to spend it come July or even sooner if we feel we’re not good enough in a certain area."— Erik Boland (@eboland11) March 7, 2018
Should the club forego any of the remaining free agents, they would have about $22 million to use over the summer before running up against the luxury tax threshold. That’s an awful lot of money to spend, but they may several holes to fill. The infield has promise, but remains untested. While I think the rotation has been underrated, it also has a number of health-related question marks. If the division race is as tight as it’s shaping up to be, expect Brian Cashman to make upgrades.
Who could realistically be available? That’s a tough question. It’s always helpful to check in on the list of potential upcoming free agents. I am a big fan of Jed Lowrie, and his batting profile would fit the Yankees. Patrick Corbin was on the market this winter, but if the Diamondbacks are in the postseason mix, don’t expect them to sell. Then there’s always Chris Archer and Manny Machado, both of whom have been extensively discussed. It’s way too early to make educated guesses, but it’s clear the Yankees will have an active July.