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Yankees “Mailbag”: Looking back at 2022

Let’s rewind to some of your concerns that didn’t get addressed throughout the year.

Cleveland Indians v New York Yankees Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

Last year, I took the opportunity during the downtime in the offseason to look back at the host of questions that had gone unanswered and give some attention to them with the benefit of hindsight. We’ve had a long, long year since then, and it’s time to take a look back at some of the questions and concerns that popped up throughout it that didn’t make the cut at the time.

The idiot that said, “Harper is coming” asked: What does Brett Gardner’s 2022 Yankee contract look like? (January 31st)

This never came to be, but boy were some of us half-expecting it to materialize once the lockout was lifted. Gardner’s exit from the team may or may not have been a sore point in the locker room, as there were clearly some veterans of the clubhouse that liked him and wanted him around, but his bat had aged like milk and the Yankees finally realized that enough was enough. Some sparks flying with the team ace throughout 2021 also probably didn’t help his cause to return.

MSP Giant asked: I’ve seen too many conflicting reports. Can Josh Donaldson field or can’t he? Is he as good as Gio or is 3B defense weakened? (March 14th)

As it turns out, he can still field pretty damn well at the hot corner. Donaldson would definitely be an upgrade on Gio Urshela’s (still underrated) defense ... however the offense left much to be desired.

Jimburtsdog asked: What will it take for Bryan Reynolds to be the Yankee center fielder on Opening Day? (March 21st)

Ah, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Yankees were looking for Reynolds to fill the gap in center at this time rather than in left nowadays, but the Pirates’ asking price has remained sky-high and the two sides seemingly won’t budge on this case. It’s hard to blame the Pirates for wanting to play hardball with one of their few stellar players, especially one under team control for so long, but perhaps they shouldn’t have made so many poor trades previously.

Ruff Trade asked: How much longer before Cashman trades Aaron Judge for ‘cash considerations’? (April 18th)

Remember when there were some folks who argued in favor of a Judge trade to get ahead of him potentially leaving in free agency? Obviously, he got a little closer to leaving than most of us were comfortable with, but getting through this season without Judge on the roster past the midseason would’ve truly been an act of arson on an otherwise promising year.

OLDY MOLDY asked: Do Chapman, Gallo or Hicks have any trade value at the trading deadline? Can the Yanks tie Hicks to some prospects to shed his $$ as the team may try to sign Judge next year? Any other suggestions on scraping nickles and dimes to afford Judge with the budget they have? (May 23rd)

So Chapman would in fact not hold much trade value, and Hicks as it turns out holds quite a negative amount of trade value, but the Yankees surprisingly plucked a diamond in the rough in terms of prospects when they shipped out Joey Gallo. 1-for-3 isn’t a bad day at the plate, and it certainly isn’t a bad ratio for converting eyesores on the roster into potential for the future.

Shoducky asked: Is it really a pipe dream to get Soto from the Nats? If not, what would it realistically take to get him? Volpe, King, Schmidt, Hicks, plus some mustache wax? I would seriously even give up Monty and Gleyber if necessary. Imagine an OF of Stanton in LF, Judge in CF, and Soto in RF… I can dream can’t I? (June 20th)

Yes, yes it in fact would be. The Yankees made an attempt, of course, but it never really materialized thanks to both Washington’s general disinterest in the Yankees’ prospects and AJ Preller getting trade fever. Of course, the package as presented here wouldn’t come close to the final tally for Soto, but even the best foot forward that the Yankees could have made wasn’t going to get the job done.

imramet asked: Let’s say you’re Yankee GM. Tell us the main guy you bring in at the deadline, not whom you target but whom you actually get. And tell us what you have to give up to get him. (July 4th)

Sure thing. I’m going to get you basically everything you could possibly want in a deadline: a top of the rotation arm, a solid bullpen addition, and a left fielder to bolster the lineup. I’m going to manage to avoid trading any of the top three prospects in the system, but I’m going to trade away many of the organization’s middle-depth prospects and some promising arms that are nearing the majors. Oh, and all of those moves are going to fail miserably in terms of helping in the postseason.

But, I’m also going to make a headscratching move at the time and deal away our fourth/fifth-best starting pitcher for an injured center fielder who might be ready sometime in September, who will turn out to be one of the best hitters we’ll have in the postseason. The trade deadline is pure chaos, and I exist to send you all on an emotional roller-coaster that is personally designed to terrify you. There are no brakes on this ride.

rob-pa asked: How do you pronounce Rortvedt? (August 2nd)

What’s funny about this question isn’t just the simplicity of it but the context — the man hadn’t played a single game for New York after being traded for months ago, and the Montgomery-Bader deal had riled up the rest of the fanbase. The good times were about to take a nose dive, the vibes were shifting towards dreadful valleys, but in strides good ol’ rob-pa who wanted to know a bit about the name of this dude that the Yankees got a while ago and promptly disappeared.

I believe it’s pronounced roar-t-vet, but please don’t quote me on that as I have next to no experience interaction with this man’s name. I legitimately had to look up how to spell it whenever it was relevant to mention him throughout the season as he vanished off the face of the Earth. Ben Rortvedt is an enigma and I remain fascinated by how the catching situation played itself out.

jmack175 asked: Donaldson has to go after the season right? Is there anyone who would take him, even with the Yankees paying down part of his remaining $21 mill next year? At least IKF is a likable person. (September 5th)

As of this moment, I’m afraid not. Donaldson went from walk-off hero on Game 1 of the season to a wart for most of games 2-162, and so far every other team has steered clear of him. We’ve been saying there’s still time for a while now, but there comes a time when reality has to be accepted — and it appears likely that Donaldson is playing out the final year of his contract in pinstripes barring an outright release.

CoolYankeesDude asked: Is there a real rationale for Brian Cashman to be fired? (October 17th)

Funny enough, this didn’t arrive in the mailbag after the Astros series, or even during it. This came during a mailbag running at the end of the ALDS, when the series was tied or right after the Yankees punched their ticket to the next round. It’s still fair to wonder I suppose, as the team’s dreadful second half and narrow aversion of disaster in the ALDS are damaging marks all on their own, but the climate around Cashman’s job security still had plenty of room to heat up.

Cashman’s job is secure now, and it wasn’t in too much doubt even if the official process dragged into December. It is interesting to see the recent additions made to his advisory circle with Brian Sabean and Omar Minaya entering the fold, whether that is Cashman seeking these opinions or Steinbrenner seeking a bit of an expanded front office.

That’ll do for this year’s trip through memory lane. If you enjoyed this let us know down below, and thank you to everyone who submitted a question throughout the year! The mailbag is a quirky thing to run at times but it is genuinely fun to interact with the fanbase more directly this way. Hopefully 2023 will provide us with plenty more to discuss, and without such a disparity between nothing but good things to boast about and then nothing but bad things to whine about.