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Yankees mailbag: Playing Judge and scanning the field

There's debate to be had over whether the Yankee captain should sit for the remainder of a lost year.

MLB: Washington Nationals at New York Yankees Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

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: Why does everyone want to sit Aaron Judge the rest of the way? All indications are that he can’t make the injury worse and he’s not going to need to undergo off season surgery ... so why would everyone want to sit him so badly?

I suppose it's not so much that he could re-aggravate his injury (though I wouldn't put it past the Yankees' doctors to be wrong about that) but that in a year where it's clear that the team isn't making the postseason, it doesn't make sense to further risk the superstar to any other injuries. I can certainly see that concern, and I sympathize with the folks who just want to make sure as much goes right for 2024 as possible.

Even if the rest of the offense plays the same way as it did the rest of the year, having Judge healthy throughout the year mightve been enough to keep them afloat in the Wild Card race and subsequently convince the team to actually invest in some trades. Preventing any sort of issue from occuring for next year when this year is now doomed makes sense in the abstract, but I think there is value in having him active and fighting for the end of the season. The team's clubhouse from an outside perspective seems like a mess, and having the Captain showcasing that he's still the top offensive threat in the game is something to build off of. Also, selfishly, I just want to see as much of Judge playing as I can - his career injuries are by and large freak occurances, so as long as he's restraining himself from running into any more walls I think the risk is low to close out the year.

hawk7401 asks: Recent news breaks out for Shohei Ohtani suffering a UCL injury (With the possibility of needing a second TJ surgery), should Yankees reconsider getting Ohtani and instead attacking the offseason going for Cody Bellinger, Juan Soto (Via trade), or some other random left-hitting left fielder in FA?

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I doubt the Yankees were seriously considering a run at Shohei beforehand. His contract would've far outdone the budget-oriented approach that the team has, even with several decently-sized contracts running out this offseason. On a different note, if Ohtani's market now deflates enough perhaps there is a world where he actually enters their radar. I still believe it's unlikely, but it's possible.

As for the other options on the market, I'll believe that Soto is available when I see him in pinstripes. That leaves Bellinger, who has reinvigorated his value from a minimum contact gamble to somewhere near his former stardom. That's still risky for a team that has been burned hard on half-measure signings - I preferred adding Bellinger as a rental and seeing how he performed, but if his future contact is a nine-figure deal that sounds like a deal that would age poorly fast in New York.

The promotion of Everson Pereira and Jasson Dominguez to the big-league team/Triple-A respectively signal to me that the front office knows they need to hit on some homegrown talent to keep the budget low enough to make some splashes. Whether they'll succeed quick enough remains to be seen, but that seems to be the plan.

Michael G. asks: Should they rebuild, reload, or mostly run it back? Which do you think they will do versus which you think they should?

I think that the only route that would be disastrous is running it back. You can make an argument that they could "rebuild" quick enough to remain competitive in Judge and Cole's championship window, but I'd rather not waste any of that time and reload ASAP. Unfortunately, right now my opinion of what the team would deem reloading looks a lot like running it back, but they've got several months to surprise.