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Yankees Mailbag: Addressing the outfield, Andrés Chaparro, and Aaron Hicks

As we near the end of the year, final impressions are going to be critical for a few new Yankees to make it into next year’s plans.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Photo by Maddie Meyer/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.

thor14 asks: If the Yankees are going to spend big on pitching next year (Yamamoto and Snell) is their best outfield defense Judge, Florial and Pereira until Spencer Jones is ready to be promoted?

So here’s the thing about the outfield. As it currently stands, while Jasson Domínguez figures to slot right back into their plans long term at the position he will miss at least part of the season due to his UCL tear, setting him back until perhaps around June. Domínguez was one of the few sparks of offense that this lineup has seen all year, with the other obvious candidates being Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres. Perhaps you’re willing to bet on Anthony Rizzo’s bat coming back to form after a full offseason to recover from his extended undiagnosed concussion and the symptoms he’s battled since, but that’s a gamble, and even if it pays off that’s three reliable bats until the Martian returns.

The other kids have been a bit of a mixed bag, and though its a small sample size that you certainly don’t want to outright rule players out from, the team has to make some tough decisions. This offense needs to be revamped, and it’s going to be hard to do that while working with the contracts already on the books. Oswald Peraza has shown some promise in adapting of late, but Everson Pereira has struggled in his big league debut and I doubt based on how this year has gone that Florial is in the plans at all. The team needs to be aggressive in getting at least one bat to complement the pitching upgrades that they also should seek, flexing the Yankees’ financial might for once outside of making a single signing. They can’t afford to come out of the gates in 2024 with this mediocre pace that they’ve been on for the better part of a year and a half, or else they’re going to be playing catchup again next summer.

Mackenzie M. asks: I’m wondering what you think the Yankees will do with Andrés Chaparro, Jamie Westbrook, and Jake Lamb in the offseason and 2024? Chaparro might deserve a shot just as much as Peraza.

Let’s focus on Chaparro here, because he’s the only one of this bunch who can still be considered a prospect. Westbrook and Lamb are organization filler at this point in their careers, with Westbrook a minor league journeyman and Lamb on his way to being a major league one.

Chaparro had some external noise building for a potential fit in the Bronx during the team’s initial descent towards the bottom of the standings, but he never got that call-up and instead has spent the entire year in Triple-A. It’s probably not coincidental that this will be Chaparro’s first full season playing over 100 games in the books, thanks to playing mostly in rookie and Low-A ball since 2016 and dealing with injuries last year in Double-A. Chaparro has experience on both corners, though he’s a third baseman by trade and has the power profile of one: decent power with a fair bit of swing and miss, and not enough else to draw the eye. He got off to a terribly slow start this year, but ramped up over the summer and ended up with roughly close to league-average offense at a 94 wRC+.

To me, that’s not enough to move the needle on a promotion. The Yankees can run Peraza and Rizzo at the corners with LeMahieu providing backup, and that about covers any potential spot that Chaparro could fill. I think he’s worth keeping around for another year in case of emergency, but if the Yankees end up breaking that glass it’s because they’re probably in another bad situation next year.

Long Time, First Time asks: The first month of the year the main topic on these boards was hating on Aaron Hicks. After he got DFA’d and picked up by Baltimore, it seems like he immediately bounced back to his 2017/2018 peak level. Just curious — what happened to him? I complain (without any particular expertise/insight) about how our coaching staff ruins players, but how did he improve so quickly???

Hicks certainly got off to a hot start in Baltimore, and overall his numbers are still very solid there — a .826 OPS and a 135 wRC+ would play just about anywhere in New York’s lineup. That being said, he was picked up to cover for the team while Cedric Mullins was out and the Orioles have largely lived up to that promise, only playing him in 53 games this year after 28 in pinstripes. He’s a valuable backup/platoon bat for them, but outside of some initial adjustments that the Orioles found it’s not like he’s completely remade himself. Sometimes a fresh start is bigger than anything else, and Hicks arguably needed that more than anyone else after how bad it got with his name in the fanbase’s ire.