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Yankees Mailbag: Debating the finishing roster moves and breakout candidates

There’s only so many moves left to make before the Yankees have their completed roster, so what should they do?

Colorado Rockies v San Diego Padres Photo by Sean M. Haffey/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 bi-weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

The idiot that said, “Harper is coming” asks: Considering the remaining free agents and the rumored trade targets available, along with cost considerations — Who do you think would be the best position player, starting pitcher, and relief pitcher the Yankees could/should add? And who do you think the Yankees actually will add among the same players?

I think there’s a lot to be said about the pitching aspects of this question (and a lot has already been said about it, but it’s been a slow offseason), but there are some complications with addressing the position player aspect, so let’s start there. The big problem is that the Yankees already have an overflow of position players locked into the roster with sizeable payroll commitments made to nearly all of them — adding a quality starter-level bat is a tough fit without spiraling the conversation to who gets traded to make room and who they get traded for to make it all work. At the same time, I think there’s legitimate concern about the production they could get at third base and a move to shore that up would be welcome.

Without getting into the weeds of how they’d make it work, they’ve shown continued interest in the top third baseman on the market, Matt Chapman, and I think that’s our obvious pick for this situation. Then we can move onto the starting pitcher market where they remain one of the only known bidders on Blake Snell, and Hector Neris is the hottest relief arm left after Josh Hader got signed recently. If money were no object, they could sign all three and significantly boost the floor of the team overnight, but that’s not the reality we live in, so where will they pick and choose where to commit their resources?

Of the options we’ve discussed, I think Chapman is the one with the most smoke — LeMahieu’s contract isn’t just in danger of going underwater, it’s already feeling waterlogged, and unless Oswald Peraza breaks the doors down I don’t see them giving him a full-time role. There’s going to be decent competition for Chapman’s services with the Cubs and Giants both in need of his bat, but considering how the offseason has developed for him his price shouldn’t be astronomical. The relief pitcher is far more likely to be re-signing one of their own relievers like Wandy Peralta or Keynan Middleton, or if you’re looking for a new name then Ryan Brasier and Phil Maton have been linked to them recently. Finally, I think the likeliest route for a starting pitcher addition is a trade for a mid-tier arm, and the Marlins have been reportedly shopping around. I like Braxton Garrett as a cheaper alternative to Jesús Luzardo, and that may be the type of arm they ultimately target.

EasyRider28 asks: Is a Snell in the hand worth two bullpen arms in the bush?

So, it depends heavily on what contract Snell actually signs. The offer that the Yankees gave Snell (five years, $150 million) is a far cry from the asking price that Snell has put out there, but no-one has come close to putting forward something north of $200 million. If his market continues to stay deflated, then there’s a world where the Yankees could seriously bargain with him, but otherwise I think they’re better off letting someone else sign the reigning NL Cy Young winner — and I truly can’t remember the last time the league has been this hesitant to try and get the guy with the recent hardware.

As for the relievers, it’s also a little dependent on the cost, but so far the Yankees have passed on bidding for the star closer in Hader and have seemingly pivoted away from Neris. They know what to expect from their own former relievers, and have mastered finding quality arms on the cheap from within and outside the organization to bolster their ‘pen. I trust the Yankees to make a pair of relief arms work no matter what and a Snell contract could easily burn them if it doesn’t come at a bargain, so I’ll have to disagree with the concept here.

jets! asks: It feels like the Yanks pull quality relievers out of their butts every year. Yerry De Los Santos is a popular choice for this year’s breakout bullpen candidate, but who would you highlight as the top candidate(s)?

Our own Malachi took a crack at this yesterday, but I’ll give it a shot as well. Will Warren has made the leap from High-A to Triple-A in just two years, and has a strong sample size at the highest level putting him a footstep away from the majors. Before Marcus Stroman was signed he was on the shortlist to contend for a rotation spot, but now it would likely take an injury for him to hop in there out of the gate. However, a callup early in the year to join the bullpen is hardly out of the conversation after his rapid ascent through the system. He hasn’t gone beyond 129 innings in either of his two professional seasons while being a full-time starter, but he could be a strong candidate to take over Michael King’s role as a multi-inning swingman in the back of the ‘pen should he continue his development path so far.