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.
Stephen M. asks: Since both our catchers are struggling at the plate (and I doubt we would carry three catchers), when Ben Rortvedt is healthy again, who do you see as the catching core?
So, realistically, I think that Rortvedt loses out thanks to missing the start of the season. Jose Trevino has made a claim to stay with the major league team by working extremely well with the pitching staff and displaying solid defensive skills. Higashioka hasn’t taken the mantle of incumbent starting catcher very well, but he doesn’t have any minor league options remaining, so the choice is between Rortvedt and Trevino — and at the moment, I don’t think the Yankees will want to send Trevino down. If the team was free to choose any two of the three without losing out on the third, then I think there would be an interesting discussion about whether Higashioka or Rortvedt should get the spot, but that simply isn’t the case.
Rivka M. asks: Aaron Judge didn’t want to negotiate a contract after Opening Day, citing a distraction from the game as his reason. Aaron Boone has confirmed that Judge’s open-ended contract status has absolutely not been a distraction in the clubhouse so far. Do you think this is true? Or is Judge playing this season not only for just the Yankees, but every team who has ever salivated over him?
Judge may be motivated by the confusing way that the Yankees handled his extension talks, but I trust him when he says that he’s not thinking about the contract talks at all at the moment. Judge has been a clubhouse leader since he grabbed the starting role for good, and he seems especially motivated to try and make a run at a World Series before the business aspect of the game kicks in. Has the cost of re-signing Judge only gone up since Opening Day? Absolutely, but the Yankees should be happy that Judge is proving he’s worth the money that they’ll be talking about in November — especially if he leads them deep into October.
David M. asks: With Luis Severino and Jameson Taillon reaching free agency at the end of the season, what do you think the chance of the Yankees letting them walk, and going with two of Medina, Gil, Waldichuk, Germán, and Schmidt?
Severino has a club option for 2023, so it isn’t guaranteed that he’ll become part of the upcoming free agent class — in fact, I’d be surprised if the Yankees turn it down. Despite all of the injuries that Severino has sustained since his contract extension, he’s showing that he’s still a quality starter with high upside, and his option isn’t particularly expensive. Pencil him in for next year.
Taillon is a harder one to figure out, but he’s certainly been quality for the Yankees so far. Matt Blake and company have gotten a lot out of Taillon as he builds his innings back up, and he’s a decent middle-of-the-rotation arm to have around. Considering that most of the names mentioned that are waiting in the wings for a roster spot are massive question marks at the major league level still, it wouldn’t be prudent to let a proven pitcher like Taillon leave on the assumption that the kids can fill the gap. Pitching depth is always in demand, and if someone else earns the starting gig over Taillon (or anyone in the rotation at the moment) then that’s a good problem to have.