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Yankees Mailbag: Donaldson vs. LeMahieu, buying vs. selling, and Volpe

Playing time, organizational philosophy, and more is on the table this week.

New York Yankees v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/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.

Helloitsme1 asks: Personality and money owed aside, if JD and DJ are both horrible, shouldn’t they play JD? He is a better defensive third basemen and might accidentally run into a few home runs (I can’t believe I just typed this question about my $280 million Yankees — how far we have fallen).

Neither player is performing up to their standards, but given the state of the team at least one of them is going to get a start daily. Donaldson does have the better defense at third, but despite his penchant for hitting a few balls out already in the 20 games he’s played in, he’s done next to nothing else with the bat. Compare that to LeMahieu, who is certainly struggling himself, but has produced more overall while mightily slumping in this month specifically. There’s no real good answer here, but I think if LeMahieu shows any signs of life he’ll win out, and if Donaldson shows the ability to hit a ball out of the infield that doesn’t go into the bleachers then it’s his job. Until then they both have to take turns seeing who is less cold at the plate.

Trevor DeMont asks: There are so many holes to fill on the Yankees, and it looks pretty obvious to me that this isn’t a team that’s only a couple pieces away from being World Series-caliber. That said, would it be smarter to write off this season, sell off a few assets at the trade deadline, and reposition things for next year? I’m not sure it makes sense to trade off more minor league prospects to prop up a team that (at best) is probably a Wild Card contender and no more than that.

So I think that this isn’t realistic because of the organization’s modus operandi — they’re in the playoff race even if the division seems out of grasp, and they don’t mind being a bit of an underdog as long as they’re in. It took a truly perfect lining of the stars in 2016 to convince Hal to sell at the deadline, and even in those final days where it was obvious to everyone else it was hardly guaranteed that they would do it. Considering the run that the Phillies and Braves have had from poor positions in the standings, there’s no way that they’re giving up the chase this time around.

Looking at this team specifically, they also lack the flippable types of players that the 2016 team had. Michael King has been invaluable to the team and is one of the few relievers that you could be comfortable betting on for multiple seasons, and he’s got a few years of control as well. If the team wanted to deal Gleyber Torres there were far better seasons to do so, and he’s currently one of their most consistent bats keeping this lineup glued together — he’s a player they want heading into next year regardless of how this season ends. I could see a world where they trade from within the MLB roster to add to it a la dealing Jordan Montgomery for Harrison Bader at last year’s deadline, but I don’t see one where they’re selling for prospects and folding on the playoffs.

Steve D. asks: If the Yankees keep Volpe on the MLB roster all season, are they entitled to any additional draft pick compensation? If yes, could that be motivation for keeping him on the MLB roster instead of sending him down to work on his batting approach?

Technically yes, they are eligible to receive a draft pick for having Volpe up, but the odds aren’t likely. MLB’s new rules around prospect graduation state that a player who is on multiple qualifying Top 100 prospect boards who is on the roster and wins the Rookie of the Year award earns their organization a draft pick after the first round, and the second and third place finishers net an international pick. Additionally, prospects in this category who finish in the top three for MVP or Cy Young voting also get a draft pick, with a fourth or fifth place Cy Young finish earning an international pick instead.

That’s a tall order for 90 percent of prospects — Julio Rodriguez earned it for winning Rookie of the Year last year, but no-one else from his class did. Volpe isn’t sneaking his way into any MVP ballots, meaning the only chance he’d have of qualifying is via the Rookie of the Year standings, where he’s in the running but not anywhere close to being a favorite at this time. Perhaps a hot second half and a continued run on the basepaths could propel him, but it remains to be seen.