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Yankees Mailbag: Cody Bellinger, pitching depth, and risky extensions

The mailbag is back to talk about the possibility of making moves already.

Miami Marlins v Chicago Cubs Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/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 weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Jesse R. asks: With the Yanks still searching for a true left fielder and ideally a strong lefty bat, is it reasonable to guess they’d be in on a potential Cody Bellinger move come deadline season should he be made available? Seems like the best way to check both boxes for the year.

Bellinger’s market will be an interesting one to follow — the Yankees might need more immediate help if Oswaldo Cabrera doesn’t turn things around, but the Cubs can ride their status as a retooling team in a weaker division to wait out offers. With the Cardinals’ dismal start and only Pittsburgh and Milwaukee ahead of Chicago right now, there’s certainly a scenario where the Cubs make an improbable run to the NL Central crown. But if they fall back, Bellinger may very well turn out to just be a highly sought-after rental. It’s ultimately in Chicago’s best interest to flip the former MVP to the highest bidder, considering that they’re a few years away from truly contending for championships again and they got him for nothing after the Dodgers discarded him.

That being said, rental outfielders rarely draw a massive return, so I can see the Yankees being in on him. The two franchises have recent history regarding their systems when negotiating the Anthony Rizzo trade, and they have a host of blocked prospects still hanging around that they could use in a trade for this use. They may not have the firepower to contend for a top-flight starter or superstar bat, but adding bit by bit is something that the Yankees can certainly afford — and Bellinger would be an ideal fit for that category.

The idiot that said, “Harper is coming” asks: How long should the Yankees wait before trying to acquire another starter? ... If either Rodón and/or Sevy are 100 percent entering the playoffs, they shouldn’t need a top of the rotation type arm, but they need a solid MLB starter to get there.

Luis Severino coming back in the next few weeks would buoy this need a bit, but there is a clear need to bolster the pitching depth. It would be unwise to assume that these two will return and stay throughout the rest of the year with no one else getting sidelined, so it will be crucial to be proactive in making sure that the bottom of the rotation doesn’t drag the team down farther than it already has. There are already some teams that are in clear non-contention, with others in dangerous standings that could do with a pre-emptive move. Especially considering the Yankees don’t need to go out and get a playoff starter but instead someone who can eat some innings, I could see them probing the market as early as June to get the ball rolling before the big names start to get put up for consideration.

George G. asks: Regarding free agents, do you think the Yanks will make anything more than three-year commitments to either Sevy or Bader? I like them both, but the injury histories really are a concern.

Harrison Bader is an interesting case, because while I don’t think the Yankees traded for him expecting to keep him around long-term, they’ve quickly found themselves needing not only his defense but his offense on an everyday basis. He would be entering his age-30 season after this offseason, and while that apparently did not frighten many teams in last offseason’s free agency bonanza, it may give more pause for a player who has only shown average offense until arriving in New York. It’s certainly possible that he earns a four-year deal on the open market, with perhaps a more desperate team pushing for a fifth year like the White Sox gave Andrew Benintendi. Whether the Yankees are in either of those talks for him remains to be seen.

Severino, on the other hand, has a far more extensive history to be concerned about. There’s no world where I see even a three-year deal for the former Cy Young finalist, rather, a Corey Kluber-esque prove-it deal would be the most that the Yankees (or most teams) would be comfortable with. It’s possible that an option could be tagged on for a second year, but there’s too much variance in Severino’s availability throughout his career to justify much else.