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Yankees Mailbag: Garrett Whitlock, Kratz as a coach, and roster theories

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The Yankees mailbag arrives and centers on the archrivals this week.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Good morning everyone, let’s reach into the mailbag for more of your Yankees questions. Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Ruff Trade asks: I’ve read in a few spots that the Red Sox are excited about that Whitlock guy they swiped from NYY in the Rule 5 Draft. Do you think this is legit? Is there any way to avoid this stuff in the future or is it just that you can’t hold onto everyone?

I definitely think that Whitlock’s impact in Red Sox camp has been felt, he’s been one of the biggest surprises for the Yankees’ archrivals this spring. Whitlock has shut down nearly all of his opponents so far, striking out a dozen in nine innings without walking a single batter. He’ll get a shot to make a name for himself in Boston this year, and considering that the team isn’t expected to be contenders immediately, he should have enough of a leash to make it through the season even if he struggles.

Now, whether this is a repeatable instance for the Yankees’ side of this story depends significantly on how they manage their arms going forward. They have a deep pool of MLB-caliber arms, though the team hasn’t been able to determine whether they will blossom into quality starters or lockdown relievers just yet. The majority of their young pitching is still teetering between replacement level and borderline starters, and the longer it takes for them to find their consistency the longer the arms below them will get held up in the minors.

Some spots will surely open up via trades, but one or two could find their way leaving town like Whitlock did in the coming years. That isn’t to say anyone that gets scooped up in the Rule 5 will end up burning the Yanks — it’s still too early to say that about Whitlock for that matter — but it is just a matter of being unable to protect everyone.

Larry S. asks: Because Erik Kratz seemed to have a good relationship with the young Yankee pitchers, shouldn’t they offer him something like a roving catcher instructor for their minor league system?

I’m sure that the Yankees would be interested in having Kratz around in a position like that, but it mostly comes down to when he’s ready to return to the game. Kratz just retired after 18 years as a professional, and as he told The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler, he didn’t do that because his body was breaking down or because he was ready to move onto coaching right away — he did it to be with his family. He isn’t even sure if coaching is exactly what he wants to do when he moves onto his next role in life. So when he makes up his mind, I’m sure the Yankees will be front and center for his services, but it’s all up to him.

Ben Fadden asks: Tyler Wade has an option remaining so the Yankees could try to get creative and send him down in order to keep both Jay Bruce (who isn’t on the 40-man) and Tauchman (who is out of options) on the roster. Do you see that as a real possibility? No fifth infielder (not including Bruce at first) would definitely be risky though.

I think you hit the nail on the head by mentioning that it would be risky, and I just don’t see the benefit. Tauchman and Bruce mostly cover the same ground defensively, with Tauchman capable of a spot start in center field while Bruce could go to first, but both have the majority of their experience in the corner outfield spots. Sacrificing the ability to give any of Gio Urshela, Gleyber Torres, and DJ LeMahieu a day off just to hold onto everyone seems shortsighted. Getting the most benefit out of a roster spot should be the priority, and having an infielder like Wade would be better utilization of it than carrying six outfielders.