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Yankees Mailbag: Looking down the road at extensions and trades

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The mailbag is here to answer this week’s batch of questions.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Good morning everyone, let’s dive back 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.

Larry S. asks: One reason the Yankees gave for not spending on free agents was extending their players. However, aren’t Judge, Torres, and Sánchez too risky now to extend any of them?

We’ve had some discussions about the Yankees’ future plans regarding extensions in the PSA Slack before, but the consensus has been that it’s unlikely that the team reaches common ground with any of the aforementioned players about a long-term deal anytime soon. It’s clear that all three are key to the team’s short-term future, and the Yankees need all of them to contend this year, but their internal evaluations of what they’ll be down the road are surely murky at the moment.

All three are in some form of a prove-it year. Torres has to prove to the Yankees brass that he can handle shortstop or at least be passable there in order to fit into the infield schematic going forward. Judge needs to stay on the field for most of the year to showcase that he can be the elite talent he displayed in his 2017 breakout season. Sánchez was whispered to be a non-tender candidate in the beginning of the offseason, and while the Yankees opted to trust him with another year behind the plate, it’s clear that he has to re-establish himself to avoid that fate again. There’s a lot of instability in each case, and both the org and the player would probably not be confident in finding a middle-ground on their dollar value at the moment.

That being said, it’s not like extension talks have to be consummated by the end of the year. All three will be under team control heading into 2022 as well, so the money opened up this offseason can still be intended for their futures even if it isn’t immediately applied.

Yanks4ever asks: Considering Torres’ defensive woes and our pitching question marks, what do you think the odds are that the Yankees make an impactful trade this summer? Will Hal refuse to do what it takes?

Personally, I don’t see it happening. The team has been notoriously conservative at the deadline in recent years, and depending on how you view the (first) Sonny Gray deal it’s arguable that they’ve never been willing to part with top prospects to augment the current core. Even if they’re dealing for a rental player, it’s going to cost plenty of prospect capital to get an impact player.

Mostly though, I feel like the writing has been on the wall for the roster flexibility this year ever since the offseason. They would not have passed on opportunities to get sure things or lock down key floor players like Masahiro Tanaka while cruising just under the luxury tax, only to go over midseason. It may not even be a situation where they’ll mandate Cashman to stay under indefinitely either — they clearly wanted to reset the tax hit previously before going over for Cole last year, so perhaps they’re gearing up for another splash on top of maintaining room for extensions as mentioned previously.

Does that matter to me, when even the repeater luxury tax isn’t honestly that much for a franchise like the Yankees? No, of course not. Unfortunately, I think the plan is set in motion already. The biggest deadline addition will most likely be Luis Severino returning from the IL, and we’ll see if he has a better go of it this time as opposed to 2019. Otherwise, they’ll try to get crafty like they did in acquiring Rougned Odor if they have too many clear needs.

EasyRider28 asks: Are the “cash considerations” we’ve heard about lately increasing the pre-trade deadline money Cashman can spend, without triggering the luxury tax, on needed player acquisitions?

My understanding is that yes, when a team sends over cash considerations instead of a player in any trade, that would lower the receiving team’s balance for luxury tax purposes. Now, we don’t know the actual numbers agreed upon between teams when cash considerations are sent in deals, but it typically isn’t any significant amount. The cash considerations that the Yankees got from the Giants via trading Thairo Estrada are most likely negligible — the more important result of the trade in terms of the tax is that the Giants take on Estrada’s league minimum salary now, and that’s still just a marginable amount in the grand scheme of things.