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Yankees Mailbag: 40-man roster crunches and the Giancarlo Stanton question

We start to look forward to the offseason in this week’s edition of the PSA mailbag.

New York Yankees v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Good afternoon and happy Friday everyone. As always, we’re here to wrap up the week by answering some of your questions. Madison is out this week, so I’ll be holding things down for today. Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Bronx Munsonites asks: Why are the Yankees still carrying Franchy Cordero on the 40 man roster? He has no future on the team. We could have dropped him and brought another kid up to give him a taste. What does the 40 man off-season look like going forward?

As to why Cordero is still on the 40-man, that’s probably just as simple as the Yankees didn’t feel they had any more reasonable prospects to promote. The Wells-Dominguez-Peraza-Pereira wave likely represented every interesting guy they had in the upper minors that was plausibly ready. Andrés Chaparro might be the last bat in Triple-A that has an argument, but even he’s an offense-first player with a 92 wRC+ with Scranton this year. Cordero’s still clinging to his 40-man because no one’s really demanded it from him.

The broader 40-man situation going into the offseason is always interesting for the Yankees, as they typically run into a crunch every year. We’ll have more coverage of the situation after their season ends and as we near the 40-man deadline, but we can take the temperature now.

The Yankees have eight players on the 60-day IL, six of whom (Nestor Cortes, Luis Gil, Lou Trivino, Scott Effross, Jose Trevino, and Anthony Rizzo) are under team control and figure to be a part of the team’s plans for 2024. By my count, that lines up rather nicely; the Yankees have seven impending free agents (Wandy Peralta, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Keynan Middleton, Luke Weaver, Zach McAllister, Frankie Montas, and Luis Severino).

So it looks as though the impending 40-man crunch might not be as crunchy as usual in New York. The only big-name prospect in the high minors that will become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter and thus need to be added to the 40-man is pitcher Clayton Beeter. The likes of Chaparro, Jesús Bastidas, and Mitch Spence are also unprotected at the moment, but slipped through the Rule 5 safely last year. Perhaps the Yankees will look to protect one of them, and they’ll of course have to churn the 40-man a bit if/when they make actual major league additions. But as of now, it doesn’t seem like they’ll have to make too many difficult 40-man decisions this winter.

Jonathan Rud asks: First off thanks for all that you do, I couldn’t imagine writing about this team. My question is, what are the Yankees going to do with Giancarlo Stanton? Analytics be damned the eyeball test tells me the guy is a bad hitter.

The thing is, there’s unfortunately little disagreement between the eye test and the analytics regarding Stanton right now, underscoring the depth of the problem. No public-facing value metric dares grade Stanton as strong contributor, with FanGraphs and Baseball Reference both handing Stanton a -0.7 WAR figure for this season. Baseball Prospectus just barely sticks its neck out for Stanton by calling him an above-replacement level player, at 0.2 WARP.

Really, the eye test and the numbers mostly line up on Stanton at this point. Your eyes likely tell you that he’s a limited player, who occasionally can put a charge into one and take his fair share of walks, but otherwise can’t do anything else at a high, or even average, level. Nothing on his FanGraphs or Statcast page will tell you any different, and therein lies the issue.

We have more in the pipeline regarding the situation with Stanton and what the future may hold for him and the Yankees, but suffice to say things look bleak. It might a bit strong to call him a flat-out bad hitter; Statcast does put his expected wOBA at .335, a fine if unspectacular mark. But even if Stanton lived up to that number in reality, as a DH who struggles when pressed into defensive duty, it’s not as if he’d be a quality starter at that figure. It’s impossible to say exactly what the Yankees will do, but with four years remaining on his contract, I’d expect them to give Stanton at least one more shot. Maybe how the team handled the Aaron Hicks situation this year could provide a clue to how this may play out: the Yankees waited until Hicks had just under three years remaining on his deal before deciding they’d seen seen enough to just cut him.

Paul Maiellaro asks: With Severino, Montas and Germán going into free agency this offseason*, who do you think will take their place?

*Editor’s note: Domingo Germán technically has one year left before he can hit free agency, but his place in the organization is obviously up in the air after he entered alcohol rehab last month. He would be due an arbitration raise from his $2.6M contract this year and the Yankees may very well elect to cut ties.

This question came in a couple weeks ago, and I thought it worth addressing just because it goes to show how there is an advantage, when a team is out of it, to trying things out down the stretch in order to see what you have for next season. The spotlight at the beginning of September was on the new wave of Baby Bombers hitting the scene, but the real revelation has been Michael King, who is cementing himself as a heavy hitter in the starting rotation.

After this Wednesday’s dominant outing against Toronto, King has thrown 28.1 innings as a starter, with 42 strikeouts against just four walks, and a 1.27 ERA and .531 OPS allowed. He’s the Yankees’ second-best starter right now, and his performance has completely clarified one part of team’s offseason outlook. They can pencil King in with confidence along with Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodón, and Nestor Cortes.

That still leaves one opening, with Severino and Montas likely gone. To fill that slot, the Yankees appear to be all over 25-year-old Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto. It seems like he’ll be priority number one this winter, and his addition would indeed give the Yankees a super rotation on paper. Of course, they had what looked like a super rotation eight months ago, and look how that turned out. Hopefully, second time is a charm.

If the Yankees fail to secure Yamamoto’s services, there are a few more interesting names at the top end of the free agent pitching market, including Shōta Imanaga, another Japanese pitcher expected to be posted, as well as the Phillies Aaron Nola, and old friends Jordan Montgomery and Sonny Gray.