You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Yankees.
If Gleyber Torres becomes a liability at shortstop, will Yankees quickly pivot and move him back to 2B? If so does DJ LeMahieu move back to 1B? — Rob
When the Yankees let Didi Gregorius leave for Philadelphia, they put shortstop in Torres’ hands despite some questions about his range and footwork but not bat. Torres would have to really fail for the Yankees to move him back to second. Tyler Wade, who has played 13 games (five starts) at short in the big leagues, would then be asked to play every day barring a trade.
Moving Torres back to second would mean LeMahieu would find himself in the same role he was in last year — first, second and third. His bat playing second is a huge plus. And moving Torres to second impacts what first baseman Luke Voit, who needs to play regularly to produce, will do.
What can the Yankees get for Aaron Hicks? He is made of glass. — Andy D.
Hicks has been on the injured list six times since joining the Yankees in 2016 and has been on the shelf 11 times since getting to the big leagues in 2013. Had this season started on time, Hicks, 30, would have been on the IL after having Tommy John surgery following last season.
So there are health concerns, and beginning next year Hicks has five years and $50.5 million left on a contract which under normal circumstances wouldn’t be a deal-killer. However, the financial landscape in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic is unknown.
With Estevan Florial’s progress in the minor leagues stalled by injuries, the Yankees don’t have a center fielder ready to replace Hicks if he is dealt. Brett Gardner (left) and Mike Tauchman (all three outfield spots) are more valuable in roles other than center, though Gardner did well last year when he was 35.
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The injury history, salary, years and not having a center fielder major-league ready from the system doesn’t put the Yankees in a good spot to move Hicks, who remember hit 27 homers, drove in 79 runs and posted a .833 OPS while playing above average center field in 2018.
(James) Paxton, (J.A.) Happ, (Masahiro) Tanaka all free agents. Which do you see the Yankees re-signing? — Yankee 23
I would say the favorite to return is Tanaka, but you can make a case for Paxton and Happ coming back, too.
Tanaka has been comfortable in The Bronx since joining the Yankees in 2014 and decided against opting out following the 2017 season. What the free-agent market for a 32-year-old pitcher will be is unknown. Tanaka thrives because of his strict routine, preparation and drama-free personality, all of which is appreciated by Yankees decision makers.
Paxton’s health history has to be considered. So, too, is the lefty being a free agent for the first time and being represented by Scott Boras, who encourages clients to experience free agency. Paxton will be 32 in November.
Happ, 38 in October, could return as a back-end starter, but if he pitches well in whatever type of season there is, the veteran lefty could be attractive to another club.
What is the plan for a rotation this year and next year? — GT3
Gerrit Cole, Tanaka, Paxton, Happ and Jordan Montgomery are the starters whenever this season opens.
As for next year, Cole and Montgomery will be under control. Should Tanaka, Paxton and Happ leave, the Yankees they have Clarke Schmidt, Mike King and Deivi Garcia as possible replacements. And Luis Severino would be expected back from Tommy John surgery at some point next season.
What position will (Austin) Wells play? — Mims and Cole SZN
On a conference call this week, the Yankees’ first-round pick said he thought of himself as a catcher and is working to improve at that position. However, he acknowledged that should a position switch accelerate his trip to the big leagues, he wouldn’t fight it. How the left-handed hitter hits will determine how fast he moves.
Do you think a shorter season (say 50 or 89 games) will benefit the Yankees? — Jay
With Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Hicks having extra time to heal from injuries that would have prevented them from starting the season on Opening Day, the Yankees have already benefited from the delayed start.
Add a powerful bullpen that gives Aaron Boone plenty of options and Miguel Andujar getting more time to strengthen a surgically repaired right shoulder, and the shorter season helps the Yankees.
With all the back and forth, do you believe baseball will be played this year? — David Valdez
Wednesday, commissioner Rob Manfred guaranteed there will be baseball played so you have to think it will. The bigger question is what will it look like, especially if there are only around 50 games played.