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Yankees Mailbag: Rental players, Craig Kimbrel, and Torres’ defense

The Yankees mailbag returns to talk deadline strategies.

Chicago Cubs v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images

Good morning everyone, let’s 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.

That idiot that said, “Harper is coming” asks: Has the time for rental players completely passed for this team? Given their record and where they are in the standings, trading prospects for a rental player seems more foolish than ever. It seems to be a much smarter move at this point to only go after players that can help in 2022 as well to ensure the prospect cost isn’t flushed down the tubes if they don’t make the playoffs at this point.

I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. There’s two arguments for rental players that you could make right now: if the player has a reasonable chance of re-signing and isn’t just solving a temporary solution, or if the player is expected to be a blockbuster acquisition. For the former, I’d point to Trevor Story, who could certainly be pursued on the free agent market next year but could help now and warm up to the idea of playing in New York. For the latter, a realistic shot at landing Max Scherzer would be worth sending out prospects for. (Obviously, if that was the case, I’d hope they re-sign Scherzer in the offseason too.)

Darth_Lazarus asks: With all the talk of Torres’ defense at short and DJ LeMahieu at second what about revisiting the Torres at third experiment that they started in the minors?

This doesn’t really solve the core issue, it just pushes Torres to an unfamiliar position that he’s going to have to spend even more time learning while also displacing Gio Urshela. The hot corner may be an easier position defensively than shortstop, but Torres is by trade a middle infielder and his familiarity with short is built off of both playing the position previously and having to interact with short consistently as a second baseman. Throwing him further across the diamond puts him in new territory, where he has less than 200 innings worth of experience at. It just confounds the issue, rather than solving.

Jack S. asks: Should the Yankees try to acquire Craig Kimbrel?

Kimbrel has become an interesting option thanks to the recent state of the Yankees’ bullpen. Aroldis Chapman has been brutal to watch for the past month, Zack Britton has been injured for most of the year, Chad Green has been up-and-down, and its been the middle relievers like Luis Cessa and Jonathan Loaisiga that have buoyed the ‘pen. Add to that a covid outbreak that pressed the team’s reliever depth, and some flaws have certainly been exposed from what was the strongest part of the roster.

Kimbrel would be an intriguing solution, should either him or Chapman be willing to forego the traditional closer role and work in a more committee-like setup — probably wishful thinking. Kimbrel’s contract further complicates things — he signed a three-year deal with the Cubs back in 2019 that had a vesting option for 2022 contingent on him finishing 110 games across ‘20-21, with 55 specifically coming in ‘21. It’s a weird one, and though he’s nowhere close to those numbers that’s due to the pandemic-shortened season — which is something where I have no idea how they settled that.

Now, that vesting year can be bought out even if it does somehow activate, but I think there’s little chance the Yankees would want to worry about it. It’s already a bit of a longshot for the Yanks to trade for Kimbrel as a rental since they have bigger needs elsewhere. If they can’t secure a deal for an outfielder or a starter first getting Kimbrel would be largely pointless, and some other team will probably beat them to the punch.

workermonkey781 asks: One of the young guys getting a chance right now is going to take advantage of the opportunity. Who’s it going to be? How long do they stick around?

Most of the guys that have been called up recently are getting an opportunity because of the covid cases, not because this is a breakthrough moment for all of them, so I can’t really agree that they’ll get to “take advantage” of this. That being said, I suppose this is a big moment for Estevan Florial as his first real stint in the majors. Sure, he’s been called up before, and he’s gotten his first hit, but being on the team for a day and getting called down immediately after versus even sticking around for a week has got to feel different. Perhaps this fuels him when he eventually gets returned to Scranton, perhaps not, but it’s a cool opportunity for one of the team’s top prospects so I’ll tip my cap to that.