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Yankees mailbag: Nolan Arenado trade, J.A. Happ, offseason plans, more

The answers to this week’s mailbag have arrived

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Colorado Rockies v San Francisco Giants Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Hey, everyone, happy Friday! Hope your week went well. Mine felt quite long, but that’s okay. There’s no better way to de-stress than with a mailbag. Hope you all like it! Remember to send in questions through the comments of our weekly call or by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Jackson asks: Where do you think the sensibility of a trade for Nolan Arenado is at right now? If the Yankees were to pull it off somehow, what do you think they would have to give up in order to get him? Should they even try?

The whole Arenado thing is a mess, isn’t it? A brief recap: The Rockies signed the third baseman to an eight-year, $260 million extension last February, then promptly lost 91 games. The team focused on shedding payroll, leaving Arneado disgruntled. As he expressed an unwillingness to go through a deep rebuild, the team reportedly shopped their franchise player. Things came to a head earlier this month, when Arenado openly stated that he felt the team disrespected him.

Arenado, 28, had another top-notch year in 2019. He hit .315/.379/.583 with 41 home runs (128 wRC+), all while playing elite defense at the hot corner. He’s been remarkably consistent since 2017, too, slashing .307/.375/.577 with a 130 wRC+ over that span. There weren’t any outlier years, either. That’s just who he is as a player.

In an article for The Athletic (subscription required) that ran earlier this week, Jim Bowden listed the Yankees among the best suitors for Arenado. He suggested a package of Gio Urshela, Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier, and Deivi Garcia. That feels way too high. The Giancarlo Stanton trade in 2017 provides a more realistic framework, considering a player with a full no-trade clause and a massive contract. The Yankees traded a big leaguer in Starlin Castro, plus Jorge Guzman and Jose Devers for Stanton.

Now, one has to remember that Stanton blocked trades to the Cardinals and Giants, so the Marlins lost all of their remaining leverage. That means the cost for Arenado might not be as light as a top-10 organizational prospect and a lottery ticket prospect. It shouldn’t be all that much more, though, so the Yankees should be all over this. They have a ton of intriguing players in the lower minors, plus some major leaguers to spare.

SJComic asks: Do you think the Yankees have one more big move in them? Or do you think it will just be small incremental moves from here on out?

Imagine if the Yankees signed Gerrit Cole and then called it an offseason. How should fans react to that? On the one hand, the team made the largest free-agent signing for a pitcher in baseball history. That is incredible! Yet it wouldn’t be wrong to think they could have done more besides bring back Brett Gardner and sign a small army of non-roster invitee catchers.

Didi Gregorius and Dellin Betances both signed reasonable deals elsewhere; they could have helped the Yankees. Plenty of other relievers signed at prices the Bombers should have been able to afford. It feels odd for them to sit on the sidelines after Cole and Gardner.

Perhaps they’re waiting on the unusually slow trade market to take shape. Many of you have noticed that the Yankees haven’t made a significant trade this offseason, something quite unusual for Brian Cashman. Hopefully they’re just biding their time and have one more move up their sleeves.

Yanks4ever asks: Cashman says that J.A. Happ is projected to open at New York’s fifth starter after the team failed all offseason to unload him. With all the teams who have poor rotations, I’m surprised no one took Happ. Whats his real value in this market?

It’s a little harsh to say the team failed all offseason to unload Happ, don’t you think? The Yankees have a history of waiting deep into the winter before trading starting pitchers. The Sonny Gray trade took place on January 18 last year, while the 2012 A.J. Burnett trade went down on February 19. There’s no rush here.

Realistically, Happ should fetch salary relief and maybe a minor leaguer, probably an organizational player rather than a legitimate prospect. Anything more than that would be a steal. As Josh recently noted in the PSA Offices, Happ’s contract—namely the vesting option—acts as a deterrent for teams with poor rotations. They probably won’t want his starts to count and wind up with him on the roster in 2021. If it were a one-year deal or even a club option, the Yankees would probably have a far easier time moving him.

Bill asks: Is it possible that Astros and Red Sox pitchers were unaware of the sign stealing?

I don’t think so. Starting pitchers hang out in the dugout on days they aren’t on the mound. They would have heard the banging, right? They would presumably have seen the monitor set up in the tunnel, too. Even the relievers, who spend a significant amount of time in the bullpen, would likely have seen the getup and heard the trashcan or other signals. I don’t see any way for them to have deniability.