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.
Hal Steinbrenner asks: What would a comparable offer the Yanks would have had to the Padres offer for Soto?
Let’s start with the initial problem — if it’s true that the Nationals didn’t value Anthony Volpe like the rest of the league does, then there was never going to be a deal. How likely that is the case we’ll never know, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. The Nationals haven’t been the greatest evaluators of external talent, and while major media outlets have been raving about this trade package being the biggest in history it appears that most fanbases think that the deal was light.
Even if we throw that detail out completely though, let’s dive into the details here. San Diego sent out a package consisting of Mackenzie Gore, Robert Hassell III, C.J. Abrams, James Wood, and Jarlin Susana, with veteran and old friend Luke Voit thrown in after Eric Hosmer vetoed his inclusion in the deal. Gore and Abrams can immediately slot into Washington’s MLB roster (Gore is on the IL currently), while Hassell and Wood are ranked 21st and 88th among MLB’s top 100. Gore was previously a top-three prospect and Abrams was a top-six prospect, though Abrams hasn’t landed his major league landing well yet. That is a ton of blue-chip prospects being thrown in the pot, even if there are question marks to note.
The Yankees, meanwhile, currently have Volpe (sixth in MLB rankings), Oswald Peraza (36th), Domínguez (37th), Austin Wells (69th), and had Ken Waldichuk (70th) before sending him out in the Frankie Montas deal. If you’re high on Gore and Abrams’ top-talent pedigree then there’s a world where it makes sense that they’d value them higher than Volpe and pieces, even if they aren’t downplaying Volpe’s own projections. In the end, it’s highly unlikely that any package the Nationals considered will outperform what Soto is going to do in the future so there will always be questions about whether x team could’ve outbid San Diego. I’m just not sure if the circumstances line up where the Yankees should consider themselves one of those teams.
DONNIE GOGO asks: Unless Schmidt is going to be in the rotation, what was the purpose of getting Bader? I seriously don’t get this one.
It’s possible that Schmidt needs to be stretched out further, but I do think that the Yankees have been positioning this to set up Domingo Germán as the fifth starter. That’s not ideal by any means — even if the fifth starter doesn’t figure into the postseason rotation, there’s a two-month stretch of play that the Yankees have to get through with a close race for home field advantage, and Germán doesn’t inspire much confidence. That’s not even getting into Jameson Taillon’s struggles or Gerrit Cole’s tendency to implode every now and then. This team had starting pitching depth, sure, but a lot of it got dealt to make a tangible improvement in bringing in Montas. Now with Montgomery gone the line between the rotation and some unproven arms is razor-thin.
As for Bader, it’s impossible to say what they truly got in him when we’re unsure when he’s actually going to play. Aaron Hicks appears to be going into another slump so it’s not like his hold on the starting spot should be absolute, but there’s not going to be a lot of time to get Bader game-ready and see what they got before the postseason arrives. You’re not alone in being confused by this deal — it’s truly one of the more puzzling deals I’ve seen the Yankees make. It could work out, but so much is floating in the wind currently.
Neil S. asks: Who should be the Game 1 playoff starter? Gerrit Cole seems to have that role locked down but his performance this season has been good but not as good as he can be ... I think the Yanks should at least consider starting Cortes in Game 1. What do you think?
It’s too early to say for certain, which is why I will defer to the assumed answer in Cole for the moment. Yes, his start against the Mariners was ugly, and his home run problem is truly concerning. Cole hasn’t been up to his standards this year, but he does have easily the highest ceiling and two months to figure it out. Cortes has been tremendous for this team, but we’ll have to watch every start of his to make sure that fatigue doesn’t set in as he pushes well past his previous career-high in innings. Montas’ addition to the rotation makes this an even-better debate — I’m sure he’ll be starting no later than Game 2, but if he has a big stretch run performance there’s a world where he could be the guy they tap for Game 1.
d-bav asks: Given that the Yankees did not trade their “top” prospects, do you think it is possible, or even likely, that we could see all of Peraza, Volpe, and Wells on the roster next season?
All of them? No. In order of possibility though, I think most of the PSA staff would argue that Peraza should be called up this season, but even if he doesn’t he should be on the roster by 2023, possibly even at the start (or whenever the callup wouldn’t impact service years). Depending on Peraza’s situation Volpe is currently blocked from Triple-A, so an early callup for the former would boost the latter’s chances of making it sometime later in 2023. As for Wells, I do like him as a prospect but Josh Breaux is ahead of him on the catching ladder and could slot into a backup/part-time role well. Also, while Wells’ bat appears to be legit, the team probably wants to continue to develop his defense and see if he can stick at catcher long-term.