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Yankees Mailbag: Long-term future Yankees, 2021 philosophies, and potential additions

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The mailbag is here to discuss some scenarios for the post-lockout future.

MLB: JUN 12 Yankees at Phillies

Good afternoon everyone, it’s time for another edition of the mailbag. From here on out, the mailbag will be running every two weeks, due to a slower amount of information trickling in and a lack of action going on. Without further ado, let’s open up the mailbag for more of your Yankees questions. Remember to send in your questions for our (bi)weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

set.builder39 asks: Excluding Aaron Judge, who are the likely candidates in the majors or minors to play 10 years for the team?

So the easiest answer to this is Giancarlo Stanton, whose contract will run into a club option right after completing his 10th season in the Bronx. I don’t foresee the Yankees entertaining a trade anytime in the near future for Stanton, and the money that the Marlins sent over for the later years of the contract should make it palatable to play him through his decline. Then comes in Gerrit Cole, who has a nine-year deal that will almost assuredly run its course, and it wouldn’t be hard to imagine tacking in a year or two either via his opt-out clause or just from a short-term deal in the end of his career like CC Sabathia took.

As for the more uncertain players, however, there are a few options. In order of likeliness, I’d feel most confident in players like Jordan Montgomery and Luis Severino. Montgomery seems like a safe bet to be a consistent middle-of-the-rotation arm worth keeping around, and Severino has ace upside with a number of years already committed in pinstripes. Aroldis Chapman and Chad Green both have six seasons logged already (counting Chapman’s 2016 stint), and could both feasibly be strong bullpen options for a number of years still, though relievers are harder to predict long-term and Chapman’s contract demands would certainly be a factor to consider.

The remainder of the major league roster is in a state of flux, so it’s hard to say if they’ll make it to a decade or not. As for the minors, that’s a true gamble even with high-ranking prospects like Anthony Volpe and Jasson Dominguez, so I’ll rate them a step below.

Rivka M. asks: How much do you think the shortened 2020 season influenced the Yankees’ 2021 season? It seems that a lot of the interviews of Aaron Boone and company in the first half of 2021 are about how loooong the season is, even though 162 games is actually normal. Could they have been in conservation mode until it was too late?

A good deal, for sure. Everyone went into the year expecting lots of caution in terms of gauging pitchers innings and similar usage concerns for 2021, but for the Yankees in particular it’s as if the problems that rose to the surface in 2020 were disregarded as flukes because of the sample size. The Rays proved they were anything but that, and their dominance in the regular season matchup (as well as their play in the AL East in general) through the first half gave a strong sense of déjà vu. Gleyber Torres’ struggles at short were written off as being due to a rough training camp when the season was restarted last year, and the piling injury concerns to the roster as a whole were written off until it became too pressing a concern to ignore at the deadline.

The most significant problem in 2021 was the offense as a whole though, and that doesn’t have a connection to the other issues. They had healthy seasons from Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, but couldn’t get the bats around them hot enough to score consistently — something they haven’t had to deal with since the core of this team formed. So while a good portion of the season can be blamed on complacency by the front office, part of it is undeniably underperformance by the players themselves.

The idiot that said, “Harper is coming” asks: Taking reasonable financial and prospect costs into account, which three players would be the most likely Yankee additions from this list? Not what you hope or wish, but most realistic options considering Cashman/Yankees recent trends and costs: Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Andrelton Simmons, Ketel Marte, Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Carlos Rodon, Luis Castillo, Anthony Rizzo, Freddie Freeman, Seiya Suzuki, Kyle Schwarber, Danny Duffy, Sean Manaea, Brett Gardner.

In the comments after this prompt, the answer of Correa-Olson-Castillo was brought up, and it does appear to be the best combination in my opinion. Unfortunately, while the latter two could be feasible, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect the Yankees to wind up with Correa unless he agrees to a short-term deal and resets his free agency for later — something that I don’t think would be in his best interest to do. Taking this into consideration, the whole puzzle falls apart somewhat.

Correa and Freeman represent the two biggest — and most expensive, monetarily — additions the team could consider this offseason, and adding one absolutely takes them out of the running for the other. While Correa is probably unlikely due to cost, I still see Freeman as being out of reach due to his loyalty to Atlanta winning out in the end. I wouldn’t mind being proven wrong, and if I am then I could see the answer being a Freeman-Chapman-Rodon combination.

Finally, the world where they land neither of the top two remaining free agents is the hardest to predict — namely because if they don’t feel convinced to add either of those superstars, it becomes difficult to understand just what they would consider worthwhile in the first place. Chapman is still an appealing option, but Story becomes a possibility as well with no free agent money committed — and opens the door to trade for Olson instead. Since Rizzo remains a failsafe at first though, and since it would save the prospect pool for a different trade, my answer in this scenario would be Story-Rizzo-Castillo.

Any of these moves would raise the Yankees’ championship odds, and reinvigorate what was a stagnant team in 2021. The biggest thing here is simply not being satisfied with a singular move — like at the trade deadline, this team needs to address multiple areas to make it worthwhile.