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Yankees Mailbag: Andrew Heaney, the catching pipeline, and the playoff race

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The mailbag addresses concerns across the board this week.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Good afternoon 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.

Pistol23 asks: Andrew Heaney doesn’t seem to have a well defined role currently, while it seems that there are several options in AA/AAA that would be better, including Warren and Marinaccio, and possibly Wesneski. Are the Yankees not DFAing Heaney because they have plans for him beyond this year?

I doubt that they have plans for Heaney after this season — he’s set to be an unrestricted free agent, and any optimistic expectations for his underlying stats has been blown up by his struggles in pinstripes. Heaney has performed terribly, but he has two advantages over the options waiting in Triple-A: he’s stretched out and can fill more innings (even if he pitches bad in them), and he’s already in the spot. Boone has mentioned that the team has a sort of hierarchy for calling up relievers, and if Warren and Marinaccio weren’t getting looks over Brooks Kriske, it’s doubtful that they’re in play for this season. They’ll ride out Heaney for what they can this year, and then they’ll reorganize heading into next year.

Noel B. asks: With Sánchez in many ways writing himself a ticket out of town (imo) is Donny Sands worth a peak this year? Also, what does the pipeline look like for catcher? Where is Wells, Seigler, and Breaux?

I don’t agree that Sánchez has earned a ticket out, at least compared to where his standing with the team was last year he’s objectively improved. This year holds no surprises heading down the stretch — it’ll be Sánchez and Higashioka behind the plate until the end. Sands has set himself up nicely for a look in 2022, whether that be a promotion due to injury or a battle for the backup job.

As far as the rest of the minor league system is concerned, the options are a ways away from competing. The trio of Wells, Seigler, and Breaux have all done their job well offensively, though questions remain long-term about some of their defensive outlooks. Wells has taken a big step forward in his first season as a pro, while Breaux is the furthest along of the three playing at Double-A Somerset. Seigler’s year has been full of delays, and the 22-year-old is currently injured, culminating in just 41 games played. There’s a lot of room for all three to grow before we start talking about them in pinstripes, and there’s a decent chance one of them gets moved to a different position or traded, but the system is flush with talent.

Mike S. asks: I know how absurd it sounds, but with the Yankees in a squash stretch here, don’t we want the Jays to beat up on the Rays over these next two weeks? The Yankees could find themselves three-four games out of first going into those big last three series. At least if they can do what they’re supposed to be doing the next nine days.

No, I just can’t see it. If the Jays were to go on a tear beating up the Rays, the division gap would theoretically close, but then there would be two teams to leapfrog instead of just the Rays being out in front. Meanwhile, the Yankees’ hopes of a wild card spot would be solely focused on the second wild card, and it would be an uphill battle with the level of competition remaining on the schedule. I would love it if some miracle scenario played out where the three teams ahead of the Yankees all broke down exactly to the point where they could be passed and the Yankees go on a tear to claim the division, but there just isn’t enough time.