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Yankees Mailbag: Untouchable prospects, playing the kids, and Cashman’s reputation

We’re combing through the levels of the farm system in this week’s mailbag.

New York Yankees Spring Training Photo by New York Yankees/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.

The idiot that said, “Harper is coming” asks: Is there any current Yankee prospect that you would consider truly untouchable (Peraza and Volpe have graduated from prospect lists, so I’d exclude them for this exercise)? Which prospects would you add a restrictor to trade?

At this point no, there’s no prospect in the organization that I’d consider untouchable. Perhaps the Yankees see their system differently, but now that Anthony Volpe has graduated there’s no one that seems lined up to take a spot on the roster in the immediate future — and thus, there’s room to discuss.

Of course, as you mentioned, there’s restrictors to place on some names. I’m sure that the team still doesn’t want to give up Jasson Dominguez unless they’re getting a legit superstar. Of the current players on the market, I’d say this only really makes sense for a guy like Juan Soto, and it’s doubtful whether or not he even is available — I just want the Yankees to get him. Aside from that, while there are a number of players I’m very bullish on in their system, I’d be fine with the Yankees making a deal including almost any of them for the additions that they need, so long as we’re talking about non-rentals. The market there may get more expensive than some were expecting, and they’ll certainly have to give up something to get what they want, but I’d want to save high-ceiling prospects like Spencer Jones from anything except the blockbuster packages. He shouldn’t be going for a player like Cody Bellinger, but if Blake Snell is on the table? Then we can certainly talk.

lidbit asks: With this season very likely lost to disappointment, and neither mortgaging the future in an ill-advised attempt to patch things up for the playoffs nor having players we can afford ‘sell’ that have value, doesn’t it make sense to promote kids?

I don’t think we’re able to say it’s a fool’s errand to consider buying here — there’s a lot of baseball to be played and the team could look drastically different with a host of moves that may not even break the bank. The tricky thing is managing to do it while working around the roadblocks that are already in place, AKA the aging vets who have all taken steps for the worse this year. That being said, I wouldn’t be against integrating young players if their biggest prospects weren’t a sizable step away yet.

Everson Pereira is a prospect that has grown on me a lot over the course of this year, and he’s making a major push to legitimacy. I was convinced he would be eventually used in a trade for over a year, and that may still come to pass, but if he makes it through this deadline still in the organization then I’d hope to see him breaking camp with the Yankees next year. That’s the main issue, however — he just got to Triple-A for the first time recently, and rushing him up in the hopes of sparking a playoff push seems like a risky gamble.

Similarly, one of the team’s top prospects Austin Wells is in Triple-A now as well, but his bat hasn’t gotten nearly as hot. Wells’ promotion to me seemed like a prove-it move that could have led to him joining the team this season, as he’s been DHing as often as he’s been catching since joining Scranton when the lone knock on his game has been how he’s developing behind the plate. Take away that responsibility, and if his bat can carry him then I think he’d be in the majors at some point in August ... it just hasn’t worked out that way. Nowhere besides Estevan Florial are the Yankees set up with prospects who could step into a place of need for them, and we’ve already talked ad nauseum about how bizarre it is that they refuse to test him again. 2024 could be a major year for the team to inject a youth movement to their rapidly aging core, but 2023 will have to be figured out with some proven talent.

HankFlorida asks: During the Ruth years and with no draft, the Yanks had the best scouts so they were able to sign great players for the future, like Joe DiMaggio, and since 1965 and the draft, the teams that have to rebuild have to be bad for many years in order to build a competitive team if they are not willing to spend the big bucks on star players in FA. My question is why is so much blame put on Cashman when he is limited by the cap and keeps the team playing in the post season by signing star players, like Stanton and Cole, and going big on his best draft pick, Judge, and then having to surround them with players that you hope can compliment them at prices that fit the budget?

So, to put the first half of this equation forward first, there’s really only been two teams that have successfully tanked their way to multiple top draft picks and properly developed them. The Astros famously did so through the early 2010s and found their championship core, and the Orioles have hit their stride now after a five-year stretch of awful play in the majors. Outside of them there are a number of teams that have flopped (the Royals, Tigers, and Pirates have perennially been at the bottom for years and have little to show for it) and a number that have been fully mediocre from within their own system (the White Sox and Phillies best fit this description, World Series run notwithstanding for the latter). Baseball more than any other sport is centered on developing depth over star power in their draft, as even first-rounders are rarely the studs that teams hope for and getting a decent major-leaguer from that spot is often a success.

So let’s shift that lens over to the Yankees with Cashman and the front office at large. To be perfectly honest, this isn’t my biggest complaint about Cashman, because the Yankees actually do a good job of identifying prospects that have major league potential. They’re one of the best in the league in fact, but there’s two problems with their results: they’ve traded away a large number of those players and haven’t benefitted from their MLB experience, and that same crop of players has managed to produce one of the league’s lowest amounts of WAR despite the larger number of players actively in The Show.

This is the yin and the yang to Cashman’s trading history — he’s been good at identifying prospects that are worth moving on from and made many deals with prospects that never ended up panning out, but many of the guys that he has kept have been uninspiring as well. That leads to my bigger gripe with his methods, and that’s his inability to get difference-making or even just solidly consistent players in return for all of the prospects that he’s sent out of town. The amount of guys that have crashed and burned in just the last six years has been staggering, and it’s led to a lot of fans souring their opinion of the GM. He’s great at finding gems for the bullpen and the occasional bench piece, but the marquee acquisitions haven’t gone his way for a long time now. Eventually, that adds up, and has led to the mess of a roster that they have on their hands currently.

set.builder39 asks: Trade Judge time?