Six questions following the Yankees’ trade with the Chicago White Sox
Unless you have been living under a rock or have had no social media access over the past 12 hours, odds are you are well aware of the unexpected blockbuster that seemed to be going Boston’s way took a turn south and found its home in the Bronx. The Yankees were able to acquire TWO late-inning impact bullpen arms and a former Home Run Derby Champion and All-Star for Blake Rutherford, Ian Clarkin, Tyler Clippard, and Tito Polo.
While some fans are especially upset with the loss of Rutherford, he has not put up excruciatingly promising numbers and realistically he is blocked by the Yankees’ surplus of outfielders. Despite the loss of Rutherford, the Yankees did a fantastic job of keeping their core group of prospects intact, while drastically improving their Major League team.
With this trade being official, it is time to now discuss what lies ahead for the Yankees in terms of their roster and what future acquisitions:
Will the Yankees still target Yonder Alonso and Sonny Gray?
It is very likely that the Yankees still try to work out a deal with Oakland for Sonny Gray, even though Rutherford is no longer in their system. However, chances are they may go after a mid-tier starter instead that could cost them less, but still anchor the back of their rotation, such as, a Trevor Cahill, Jeff Samardzija, or Jeremy Hellickson. Prospects like Jorge Mateo, Estevan Florial, and Chance Adams would likely be asked about in Sonny Gray talks. Yonder Alonso may be out of the question with the acquisition of Frazier, unless the Athletics severely drop their price for a rental player that is playing way above his career numbers.
How does the Frazier acquisition affect the current Yankees’ infield?
When Todd Frazier was announced to be heading to New York, it was not exactly stated what his role would be with his new team. After several reports, it seems that Frazier will see time at both corner infield positions and at the designated hitter. Chase Headley has been hitting at a .306 clip in his last 20 games, but he is hitting a dismal .208 against southpaws in 2017. Expect Frazier to see a majority of the reps at third, when a lefty starts for the opposing team. Frazier will also see a hefty amount playing time as a first baseman. That means either Garrett Cooper or Ji-Man Choi is the odd man out. Neither has played poorly, but Cooper was just recently traded for, so it seems unlikely he would be leaving the Bronx just yet. However, Choi would be a left-handed bat off the bench, so Choi may be able to hang around, if the Yankees see this as a valuable asset to their ball club.
Who will likely be the odd man off the 40-man roster?
Clippard’s departure will free up a spot on the 40-man roster for one of the Yankees’ new acquisitions, but there will still be two spots on the roster that will need to be filled. With the new arms in the bullpen, a reliever will most likely lose one of the spots. A strong candidate is Giovanny Gallegos, who has looked very poor in his limited action in the Majors with a 7.15 ERA. He could potentially pass through waivers and still be an asset to the Triple-A club. Other candidates are Rob Refsynder and Ji-Man Choi, due to their now lessened roles with the club.
What will the roles in the bullpen be?
Despite the universal disagreement that bullpen roles create, as long as Joe Girardi is managing the Yankees, they will exist in some degree. Aroldis Chapman seems to be a lock for the closer role, unless his struggles continue, and David Robertson will likely be the set-up man. Dellin Betances should still be given high leverage situations, but will most likely be utilized similar to how the Indians use Andrew Miller in their bullpen. Miller does not have a set inning, and Terry Francona uses him when he feels the game is on the line and when the team needs crucial outs. Kahnle will be used in the middle relief role, and Green and Warren will likely still be used in tough situations, but more so especially in ones that involve multiple innings. As the only other lefty in the bullpen besides Chapman, Shreve will likely round out the bullpen as a lefty specialist or a guy used in less stressful scenarios.
Will the Yankees address their crowded outfield?
The main reason losing Rutherford was not a crisis for the Yankees was due to their outfield depth in the organization. This remains true at the Major League level as Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Clint Frazier all seem to be mainstays with the Major League team. It is not too large of an issue temporarily, due to Hicks’ injury, but during the home stretch the Yankees cannot have all five of these outfielders on their 25-man roster. They could easily send down Clint Frazier, but it would make no sense as he has been their most productive hitter since the All-Star Break. The Yankees could also just wait it out and make a decision, when Hicks returns, but that would be ignorant of the front office to do. That leaves Gardner or Ellsbury as possible trade chips, however, Ellsbury’s contract will be almost impossible to move, so unfortunately life-long Yankee Brett Gardner makes the most sense to be on the move. The Yankees could try to flip him for a starter or involve him in a three-team deal that would include flipping a prospect received for Gardner for a pitcher.
What is in store for the starting rotation?
With Tanaka, Severino, Montgomery, and Sabathia anchoring four of the five spot in the rotation, there remains one spot for a fifth starter. Cessa and Mitchell both auditioned for their spots in Minnesota, and neither one looked particularly promising, while rookie Caleb Smith pitched adequately in his first Major League appearance on Monday. Either three of these pitchers could spend time in the rotation, but the Yankees will likely want someone more established or promising trotting out to pitch every fifth day. Other internal candidates are Chance Adams and Dietrich Enns, but the Yankees have been hesitant to give either one a chance yet. The Yankees could make another splash and acquire the aforementioned Sonny Gray or a lesser caliber pitcher, but they could also try to ride it out with what they have.
Article by: Ryan ThomsFollow @_TheRealRT_ Follow @BronxBomberBall