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Yankees Mailbag: Early check-ins on trades and bullpen shuffling

The mailbag looks at the early results for some key roles and their predecessors, as well as musing on a pair of relievers’ futures.

New York Yankees v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Good afternoon 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.

BigYankeeFan asks: What’s the record with Voit and Sánchez in the lineup vs Rizzo and Trevino? Thus far is Cash winning these trades?

So far, and it’s still early mind you, there’s no doubt that Cashman has come ahead on the Rizzo/Voit angle, and I’d argue he’s slightly ahead on the Trevino/Sánchez one as well, though that one is harder to assess for reasons we can get into. First, however, we must acknowledge that Anthony Rizzo has come out blazing hot for New York — a 1.098 OPS with eight home runs in just 19 games is a legit power surge, and while he probably won’t keep that up throughout the season, if his offense is even 80 percent of that with the defense he provides then he’ll be a highly productive member of the team. Voit, meanwhile, has unfortunately fallen victim to the injury bug already — he’s on the 10-day IL with a biceps injury, and he was playing through it poorly at the start of the year.

Sánchez and his replacement is a different conversation. At the moment, Sánchez is providing the Twins with just below league-average offense (posting a 95 wRC+ at the time of writing) and has been a net neutral on the field — there hasn’t been any of the faux pas with the glove that ailed his time in New York, but he also hasn’t done much to factor in with his other duties. Trevino wasn’t expected to be his replacement, but here he is after Ben Rortvedt hit the shelf and Kyle Higashioka struggled out of the gate. Trevino’s been relatively poor offensively, playing to a meager 68 wRC+, but his defense has been exceptional enough to push him into the positive with a 0.3 fWAR. I don’t think there’s a particular win for either side yet here, especially considering Sánchez has only one deep ball at the moment and he’s sure to run into at least a few, but there is a philosophical one in that the Yankees intentionally wanted better defense behind the plate, and so far they’ve gotten it.

Stephen M. asks: While the Yankees starting rotation is solid, are there any plans to have Michael King as a starter? Let’s face it, the guy is legit.

At the moment, no — King is a valuable, or even arguably the most valuable reliever they’ve deployed so far this year, and messing with that isn’t in the immediate plans. However, should injuries muddy the waters in the rotation King would likely be the first name called on to spot a couple of starts — the depth starters in the minors are either not ready yet or struggling in the early going, and King has some experience in the role already. As for beyond this season, that’s where I can see King making his case. Jameson Taillon’s contract will expire at the end of the year and Jordan Montgomery will be in his last year of arbitration next season, theoretically opening spots for King to slide in if they aren’t re-signed. King would likely have to find some starting time in the near future to audition and convince the team to pass on either of those two, however, since Taillon and Montgomery have been serviceable back-of-the-rotation arms.

Tampa Fred asks: Green’s blown save and loss totals have gone up precipitously since last year. With the improvement in the Bombers’ bullpen post-Blake I can see Cashman letting Chad walk via free agency during the offseason. With the continued improvement in the bullpen everybody else moves up in the pecking order, no?

It’s certainly possible, since the Yankees have shown their aptitude for finding bullpen help either from within or via under-the-radar trades. Green has been a staple of the bullpen for years at this point, but if there’s a lesson to be learned from the last few offseasons it’s that the budget is clearly going to be narrow for these Yankees, and spending millions on relievers clogs things up. Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton’s contracts will both be up, so perhaps Green can be re-signed on a favorable deal, but if he gets closer or set-up man offers elsewhere it would be difficult to justify spending $7-8 million on one reliever when the overall bullpen has been turned into such a well-oiled machine.