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Yankees Mailbag: Fan displeasure, Rizzo’s contract, and offseason goals

Strap in for one more mailbag response before the offseason pace sinks in.

Tampa Bay Rays v. New York Yankees Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Good morning everyone, it’s time for another edition of the mailbag. Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

David H. asks: Do you think the Yankee hierarchy give much credence to Yankee fans’ evaluation of Yankee players, coaches, and managers?

No, I don’t, and I don’t think they should. Obviously tensions are high right now regarding Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman’s results following another exit short of the World Series, and there’s a reasonable argument to be made that Hal Steinbrenner isn’t considering shaking things up as much as he should. However, the fanbase’s input is not one that they’ll ever take heed to when dealing with changes of this magnitude — this is a fanbase that is harder to please than any other and has a tendency to jump to extremes and change their opinion on a dime if a player fails in a clutch scenario or the team blows a game they should’ve won. We’re all guilty of a little bit of passion getting in the way of sound thinking every now and then, but the New York market has its reputation for a reason.

NJYankeeFan asks: Assuming we keep Judge and could retain the rest of the 2022 team, what one player would you realistically pursue this offseason, who would he replace and why?

It’s difficult to say, because while the Yankees should certainly look to improve their lineup this free agent class isn’t ideal for them in the positions that they are looking for. Barring a Nolan Arenado opt-out, the third base mostly features aging veterans who would probably fall in line with Josh Donaldson’s experience in New York. In left field, meanwhile, the most appealing player is a soon-to-be free agent from the Yankees themselves in Andrew Benintendi. It’s true that they didn’t really get to see much of Benintendi in pinstripes thanks to his injury, so if you wanted to say re-signing him would count as an improvement I wouldn’t necessarily disagree, but that’s not what we’re looking for here.

Instead, my eyes drift towards the pitching market and Carlos Rodon. With the money freed up from relievers like Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton entering free agency, the Yankees should have enough wiggle room to make a run at one of the best pitchers from the NL this season. He would slide right into Jameson Taillon’s slot, who is also set to depart this offseason, and offer a much higher floor and a reliable No. 2-3 option behind Gerrit Cole. Should Nestor Cortes sustain his run and Luis Severino get back to form this would be an elite rotation without even factoring in whether they can salvage anything from Frankie Montas, and if one or two of those names falters then they still have a stalwart front of the rotation to lead the way.

OLDY MOLDY asks: What is the max offer to Rizzo?

Rizzo is expected to opt out of the last year of his two-year deal that he signed last offseason, and that would’ve paid him $16 million. He’s likely going to get a small value increase and another year tacked on, so depending on how negotiations go a two-year, $40 million or a three-year, $54 million deal would be reasonable. Anything beyond that seems too risky for a first baseman nearing his decline years and with some injury concern, though he’s still an elite defensive player and clearly has some power left in the tank.

NYCKING asks: One word to sum up player development of Yankees in last 10 to 20 years?

Improving. The farm system of old had next to no promising names, and the draft classes that the Yankees rolled out in the early 2010s were abysmal. The Baby Bombers of course stepped up and rejuvenated the team in the middle of the decade, but outside of them there were few names reaching the top prospect lists and consequently few big trades that the front office could pull off. The Yankees became known as a team that offered quantity over quality, and still managed to convince a few GMs to deal with them, but overall they lacked the organizational depth to pull off a blockbuster.

That hasn’t been the case over the past few seasons. Yes, the team has had Anthony Volpe and Jasson Dominguez on their untouchable list throughout most of their tenure in the minors, but the Yankees have always had an odd obsession with overvaluing their pieces and claiming that certain guys were off-limits. At least these two are genuinely top-tier prospects deserving of that title, and there have been plenty of guys around them that have drawn scouts’ eyes and provided a basis for a developed system. The Yankees have traded dozens of organizational top-30 prospects over the past two seasons, and many of them jumped into the top-10 of their new homes immediately — that shows that the Yankees have started to build a sustaining pipeline to blue chip talent.

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions every week as the season went along. The mailbag is always an enjoyable and creative piece to put together, and it helps organize all the chaos throughout the many months of the year into clear and concise discussion points. Now that we’re in the offseason, expect this to shift to a bi-weekly format as news slows down and we await the hot stove heating up!