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Yankees Mailbag: Left field, Max Scherzer, and minor league promotions

The mailbag arrives to answer more of your Yankees questions.

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Good afternoon everyone, it’s time to open up 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.

Damn Yanks asks: How much longer do the Yankees stick with Frazier in left? If there is little to no improvement, do you see them looking to trade for a better hitting corner outfielder at the deadline or do you think they’d try and go with internal options and hope for the best?

It’s been tough to watch Clint Frazier this season, especially juxtaposing this year’s version to the one we saw break out in 2020. Frazier has tinkered with his stance a ton, but the net results have been consistently poor with the bat, and the defense has gone back to being subpar. The lineup hasn’t had all of it’s gears going once yet, and Clint has been one of the pieces consistently stuck in place.

The main reason that he’s continued to see playing time, despite his struggles? Brett Gardner has been objectively worse, offensively. Gardner still retains a positive glove, so he’s gotten consistent starts, but his bat looks every bit the part of a 37-year-old who wasn’t signed until right before spring training.

Since there are several spots in the Yankees’ lineup that still need to get their act together, Frazier should still have some time to work things out. If things are still looking bleak into June and July, however, it’s going to be necessary to make a change. Should that be necessary, the team will almost certainly have to look externally — Gardner simply should not be an everyday starter at this point in his career.

Jake R. asks: Can you put together a trade package for half a season of Scherzer? I can dream right?

You certainly can, and we’ll entertain the idea — even if the Nationals won’t. It’s extremely difficult to gauge trades for rental players, especially ones that are older and therefore have an unclear market. The only comparable deal for a pitcher of Scherzer’s stature is the Justin Verlander trade to the Astros back in 2017, a deal that ended up being a landslide for Houston (incidentally, the key prospect in that trade was just recently released by Detroit). Verlander also had a couple of years left on his deal, which was seen as a gamble at the time, but it serves as a decent template.

To keep this as realistic as possible, the only prospect that would be off the table is Jasson Dominguez. You could argue whether or not that’s a smart idea to entertain, but the Yankees have made it clear that he’s untouchable so we’ll honor that. Everyone else is fair game, and that’s going to be necessary to put any sort of package together.

Any package for an ace like Scherzer starts with the Yankees’ best pitching prospect. Since they don’t really have a knockout pitcher in the pipeline, they would probably let the Nats pick who they prefer between Deivi García and Clarke Schmidt. Luis Medina is also a strong arm in the system, and the Nats could easily ask for him as well. Then, you’re looking at a choice between a couple of position players like Estevan Florial and Oswald Peraza to round things out.

Is this a lot in terms of the depth that the Yankees have collected in their system? Yes. Is it a lot in terms of top prospect prizes? Honestly, not particularly. They’d be giving up three of their top 10 prospects, but no one other than García is arguably a top 100 prospect, and scouts have plenty of differing opinions on García’s status as well. Compared to having Max Scherzer going back-to-back with Gerrit Cole in any playoff series? That’s priceless. And it’s why plenty of other teams would outbid the Yanks on this market.

Darth Lazarus asks: How aggressive do you think the Yankees will be promoting their prospects that had college play experience? Wells is the first that comes to mind on that list.

I expect them to be pretty conservative in promoting their newer players, even if they are coming out of college. The lost year of development from the pandemic is simply too much to replace for many of their careers, and having some stability in playing out a whole year at one level will help out. On top of that, the loss of a few levels in the team’s minor league system means that there’s less flexibility in getting playing time to the host of guys in the lower levels of the minors.

Players like Florial, who is getting in a groove at Double-A, I could see moving up with sustained success. Trey Amburgey, if help is needed in the outfield, could feasibly get a look. Guys like Trevor Hauver or Austin Wells, however, will probably be in Tampa for most of this year, and potentially all of it.