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Yankees Mailbag: Regrets on trading Waldichuk and who fills in for Montas

The first mailbag of 2023 is here and centers squarely on some Frankie Montas trade fallout.

Oakland Athletics v Seattle Mariners Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Good afternoon everyone, it’s time for our first (real) edition of the mailbag this year! Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Erick S. asks: I believe Waldichuk was just listed by as the third-best left-handed pitching prospect. How bad are the Yankees going to feel about trading him in a few years?

They’re going to feel bad regardless because of the opportunity cost being spent on Frankie Montas at this rate, but yes, this trade overall seems to be quickly developing poorly for the Yankees. It is truly wild how a trade deadline that seemed to answer all of the team’s needs soured so fast, but of the bunch the Montas trade was the one I hesitated on at the time. The haul of prospects that the Yankees gave up were always going to be traded, I believe — they simply didn’t have a path for all of them to make it and that’s what you’re supposed to do with blocked prospects while you’re in a pennant race — but the gaudy price tag that Luis Castillo garnered forced the Yankees to look in a different shop. I would’ve rather gotten Carlos Rodón at the time, but hey that sin has been amended at least.

Barring a Cy Young-laden career for Waldichuk, the Yankees shouldn’t worry too much about the decision to trade him and his fellow prospects. It’s simply a matter of business, and it’s one that I think was near-universally seen as the right move. It’s just inexplicable how much it has blown up on the other end of the deal, the difference-maker that they traded for that has been anything but so far. Time is ticking for Montas to make an impact on a championship push already with his injury, and the body of work is alarming to say the least.

Darth_Lazarus asks: Can Trey Sweeney be a third-base option for 2024?

I don’t think so, for a few reasons. First, while the spot will be opened up once Josh Donaldson’s contract runs out at the end of the year, the likeliest solution is that DJ LeMahieu will slide in to get a regular position moving forward while Oswaldo Cabrera gets undisputed super-utility access. It’s the best fit for the roster, and something they’d probably rather roll with this year if they managed to unload Donaldson.

Let’s jump back to Sweeney, though. Sweeney has been exclusively a shortstop since becoming a pro, which isn’t necessarily a barrier to becoming a third baseman as the role is considered easier, but it does raise some questions about how well he could adapt to the role in just a year’s time to be MLB-ready, when he’s still a ways away having just scratched Double-A. Also, Sweeney’s bat is a little underwhelming in general, let alone for a traditionally power-bat dominated role like third base. He’s got a little pop in his bat, but not much more than a 10-15 homer profile with middling-OPS results as a consequence.

Sweeney’s a solid prospect, not quite in the top-100 league-wide but well within the upper ranks of the organization’s list, and he has a lot of time to prove himself. I wouldn’t worry too much about whether he can make it in 2024.

jshep12 asks: German, Schmidt, or someone else? Who fills in for Montas while he’s out?

We’ve had the case made for each of these three options recently by our staff, with Andrés first arguing for Clarke Schmidt, Peter following up with the details favoring Domingo Germán, and then Esteban rounding things out with an appeal for Michael King to serve as an opener to start the year. Give ‘em all a read if you haven’t yet, there’s good points made in each of them.

Of course, only one can be correct in the end. There’s two veins to this question — which one I agree with, and which one I think the Yankees will inevitably do. It appears that there will be room for competition in spring training before the team makes their decision, so perhaps they aren’t heavily leaning one way or the other, but my bet would be that they favor Germán for the gig. Germán held down a consistent starting role in the second half after a lot of speculation about whether he would even have a significant spot with the team, and the Yankees could do a lot worse than getting a repeat of what he gave them there.

Personally, I’m swayed by the argument of utilizing the talent with the highest ceiling, and while Schmidt currently has more to give in a starting role Esteban’s case for continuing King’s development is highly compelling. King’s ascent in the last year has been immense, and his past as a starter in the minors and his current resume as a multi-inning reliever gives credence to the notion that there’s more to unlock, so getting him going after his injury-derailed breakout makes sense to me.