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Yankees Mailbag: Trading versus signing, Ohtani’s deal, and the future of the infield

The mailbag goes in-depth on two of the biggest stars available on the market right now.

San Diego Padres v San Francisco Giants Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Good afternoon everyone, it’s time to dive back into the mailbag and answer some of your questions. Remember to send in your questions for our bi-weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Brad G. asks: The window to win while Cole and Judge are in their prime is short and Soto would fit very nicely into the Yankee lineup, but they are clearly more than one player away. Trading away youth and prospects for another massive contract (sign and trade I assume) seems like a terrible idea. Plus he’s a negative on defense? I don’t get it. Thoughts?

So, if we were talking about a player right on the cusp or over the 30-year-old mark I could understand some of the concern about taking on another superstar contact. However, Juan Soto is one of the best players in baseball, has been for quite some time, and is only 25 years old. That is a remarkable occurrence, and considering that he’s only signed for one more year the prospect cost isn’t going to be outrageous — the Padres can ask for a Domínguez/Volpe-led package all they want, but unless a true bidding war breaks out it seems the rest of the league is aware that San Diego is on the backfoot in seeking to deal him in the first place.

Now, his defense isn’t very good, I will admit that. However, his bat is so generationally good and fits so perfectly next to Aaron Judge that I think sticking him into left field and letting the chips fall where they may would go completely unnoticed. As for the contract he’ll sign after this upcoming season — and he will test free agency, for sure — it is my biggest concern that he may end up a one-and-done with wherever he gets traded to. Getting him in the door and gaining even a slight advantage in negotiations by getting him comfortable as a Yankee would make my concerns much weaker. He’s still going to chase the bag, and it’s well deserved, but the Yankees would also be more incentivized to match any offer if he mashes for them and helps lead the way back into title contention.

Oh, and trading for Soto shouldn’t prohibit them from making other moves. The Yankees are involved on a lot of fronts this offseason, and while it remains to be seen whether they can land multiple major pieces, they shouldn’t let the fear of striking out elsewhere sway them away from landing a cornerstone player that’s available now.

Hal Steinbrenner asks: Trout’s 427 is the highest contract in baseball — when I hear 500 bandied about for Ohtani, I just do not believe it. He’s injured again, seriously questioning his pitching going forward. He doesn’t play the field. I think he could be swayed by a high AAV short contract, or a much lesser guaranteed number. He ought to be invited for supper and conversation.

Ohtani’s free agency is unique, and I don’t pretend to know any of the insider details on how those negotiations are going. If Ohtani himself is to be believed, no-one is going to leak anything out of fear of getting cast out of the running. But we’ve heard plenty of people throw around theoretical numbers of what Ohtani could earn, and if ends up anywhere in the ballpark of what has been suggested there’s just no way he should gamble on a short-term high-AAV contract.

It may seem incredible to talk about a player earning $500 million or more in a single contract, but prior to his injury there was a chance (however small) that he’d push even beyond that. I do think there will come a crossing road in his career, maybe a couple years down the road or maybe longer, where he’ll have to decide between continuing to be a two-way player or committing to one path. The injury history is there, and so far it has robbed him of time as a pitcher, so perhaps leaning on his offensive pedigree is the safer choice. Even if you were to solely bet on that, and add in a few years at best of being a starting pitcher on top, his value clears anything that we have seen in the game of baseball before.

He is legitimately one of the best players even if you just took into consideration one of his two roles, and his baseline pay is going to reflect that. He’s going to set the record for the biggest contract in baseball, and even factoring in the general inflation of baseball contracts over time I think it’ll be a long while before we see another challenger because of the uniqueness of this scenario.

MSP Giant asks: Let’s say the Yanks trade Torres. If they do not add a middle infielder then is it Peraza at 3rd and DJL at 2nd? The opposite? Do they move Volpe to 2nd after the season he just had at short? Thoughts? (No, I am not trying to rile up the Gleyber Gang)

So I would not be a fan of trading Gleyber Torres at this point, mainly because he’s proven that his bat is back to performing like one of the better middle infielders in the game and the Yankees desperately need all the offense they can get. Assuming they had a solid reasoning for the deal, however, and we had the above scenario I think Volpe would slide to second and Peraza would play as the shortstop. Volpe fielded the position better than most expected after the start of the year, but he and Peraza are two opposites — Volpe is the bat-first prospect while Peraza is the glove-first candidate.

And while I do legitimately think that Volpe can stick it at short, Peraza even in his short time on the major league club showed that he can dazzle at the position. Their best value here is pairing them up as double-play partners, and perhaps taking some of that spotlight and pressure off of the former top prospect will reignite his bat.

Shoducky asks: How come the Yankees don’t employ any of the “dynasty years” players as coaches or manager? Tired of Boone and his friends.

Plenty of people clamor for some of the ‘90s-era Yanks to take a role with the team today, but coaching is an entirely different beast than playing. Great players often don’t make great coaches, at least not automatically. It takes a different skillset than the ones they utilized on the field, and if they find it then they can land on their feet pretty well. If they don’t, however, then it just sours their image slightly. Aaron Boone’s had a tumultuous tenure as Yankees manager, and both the pro- and anti-Boone camps have some points to make, but it’s not as easy as just fitting Derek Jeter back in uniform and having him lead the troops instead.