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Yankees Mailbag: Organization philosophy, Miguel Andújar and the Rule 5 Draft

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Check out the answers to this week’s mailbag.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Good morning everyone, let’s keep going with some more offseason mailbag questions. Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Yankees456 asks: Are the Yankees serious enough to do what it takes to win the World Series, or will it be just another season to get in the playoffs and be satisfied with it?

For what it’s worth, I don’t think anyone involved on the field is satisfied with the results that the Yankees have come up with. I don’t even think the front office feels that way, either. You have hit on a solid point though, which is that the Yankees have not been a team looking to go all-in yet, and maybe we should dissect why that is the case.

Hal Steinbrenner has laid the foundation for a different organizational philosophy than the one that ruled during his father’s years. The Yankees’ goal is of course to win the World Series every year, but they are not willing to push in their chips each year in search of that goal. Rather, they’ve developed a sustained approach built around making sure they’re in the playoffs every season and trusting in the randomness of the postseason.

We’ve talked at length about this topic before, and it has its merits and its faults. What is undeniable, however, is that it’s a similar model to the one that the Dodgers have built for themselves out West. There are some key differences to note, of course — the Dodgers have managed to win the division outright each of the last eight seasons, have made it to the Fall Classic three out of the last four years, and most importantly, came away with the crown this year.

Its not a coincidence that the years that the Dodgers started to make significant trades — dealing for the likes of Manny Machado, Yu Darvish and Mookie Betts — were the years that they began making it to the World Series. The full picture here, however, is that the Dodgers haven’t gone all-in to make these types of trades. They’ve been able to send out top prospects and still own a top-three farm system, something the Yankees haven’t come close to rivalling after graduating their core of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres and Luis Severino. Until the Yankees’ system can go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Dodgers, either from their improvement or from Los Angeles’ deterioration, they’ll find themselves a step behind following this method.

Mikey asks: Miguel Andújar currently is blocked at 3B, LF and DH. In the event that the Yankees trade Luke Voit for pitching and there’s an opening at 1B, do you think that Miggy can be groomed to be a defensively adequate first baseman?

I think there’s room to acknowledge two things that are simultaneously true regarding this question. Andújar’s likely road to a starting spot that isn’t at DH is playing first base, since it’s the only spot where you can hide his horrible defense. Third base simply isn’t going to cut it for him, and although he got a very small sample size in the outfield, I don’t foresee that working out for him either. First base is traditionally a place where you can stow away bad defense behind good to great hitting, though Andújar is going to have to work hard to showcase that his bat can return to the promise it showed in his rookie year.

It also makes no sense for the Yankees to be the team trying him out there. If Voit is getting moved, whether it be for pitching or some other area of need, that move has to be predicated on DJ LeMahieu re-signing with the team and taking over at first. Andújar is not an adequate replacement for a down-ballot MVP candidate, nor should he be expected to be. There really doesn’t seem like there’s a role for Andújar at all on the team, so either he needs to start in Triple-A to rebuild himself, or he needs to be given an opportunity somewhere else.

larry s asks: Are the Yankees in danger of losing any players in the Rule 5 Draft?

The Yankees have a host of players eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this year, and they won’t be able to protect them all. It’s uncertain who the team will look to protect by promoting them to the 40-man roster just yet, but there’s a couple names who currently could get looked at.

Oswaldo Cabrera, Oswald Peraza, Alexander Vizcaino, Roansy Contreras and Yoendrys Gomez are all players that FanGraphs listed in the top twenty of the organization’s prospects, and all are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. The Yankees currently have 37 players on the 40-man roster, including three players who are on the IL. That doesn’t leave much room, if any, for these players to get protected, since the team has to consider roster spots for players currently in free agency like LeMahieu.

There’s a decent chance that all of these prospects get left unprotected for the Rule 5 Draft, and there’s not much the Yankees can do from there. Considering that these players all lost a year of playing actively, however, teams may be skittish about picking up Rule 5 players. That could wind up working in the Yankees’ favor as they try to figure out what the futures of these players will be.