Another week, another five questions to answer in the mailbag. Drop us a line at viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com to be potentially included in a future week’s edition.
George asks: Do you see any realistic scenario where Giancarlo Stanton is not with the Yankees in 2020?
Nope! I don’t think there’s any chance that the Yankees trade Stanton. Has the team thrived without him this season? Certainly, but that doesn’t mean the Yankees are better without him. In our blog’s first piece, Bobby explained why the Yankees miss Giancarlo:
He’s a career .268/.358/.547 (142 wRC+) hitter with enormous power, a former MVP winner, and still in his prime. It’s truly absurd to pretend that any team wouldn’t miss a bat like that.
Even last year, when he had a comparatively down year by his standards, he hit .266/.343/.509 (127 wRC+) with 38 home runs in 158 games. 158 games! I really feel like people forgot that Giancarlo played nearly every day last year.
I understand that there’s been frustration about Stanton having appeared in just nine games this year. His injuries this season have been frustrating and confusing, too. When he returned from the biceps turned calf injury, it didn’t take long for him to go back on the shelf. It stinks, but it’s not a reason to move on from him.
Whenever something goes wrong with Stanton, it seems like everyone wants to either get on him for his strikeouts or injury history. The former is always going to be part of his game, but I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to place the injury prone label on him. He’s had a couple of freak injuries in his career, including his infamous hit by pitch in the face.
If for whatever reason the Yankees wanted to deal him, it would likely be very difficult. Why? For one, he has a no trade clause and he’s proven that he will use use it. Two, his ability to opt out after 2020 could be an impediment. If he opts in, he’s owed $218 million from 2021 through 2027. But, the Marlins are on the hook for $30 million of that amount. Any acquiring team (that Stanton would have to acquiesce to) would probably want assurance from him that he’d opt in. That might mean picking up his 2028 club option for his age 38 season.
Andrew asks: What about Lance Lynn? He’s got an extra year of team control compared to Minor, he’s demonstrated an ability to suppress home runs, better track record both performance and health wise, and a pretty good argument to be made he’s been the best pitcher on the Rangers this year. Yankees traded for him last year so he clearly has fans in the organization already.
The Yankees should trade for Lance Lynn *ducks*— Derek Albin (@derekalbin) July 16, 2019
I was only half kidding when I tweeted that last week. Lynn has been nothing short of fantastic for Texas this season. In 135 innings, he owns a 3.93 ERA, 3.00 FIP, and 2.61 DRA. Here’s where he ranks in all of the majors by WAR(P):
- Fangraphs: 4.6, 2nd place (FIP-based)
- Baseball Prospectus: 4.2, 3rd place (DRA based)
- Baseball Reference: 4.8, 3rd place (Runs Allowed based)
Lynn’s seen a fastball velocity uptick this season while also reallocating his pitch arsenal a tad. He’s still fastball-dominant, throwing the pitch more than 70 percent of the time, but he’s increased the usage of his slider by about 6 percent. In turn, he’s striking out a ton of hitters and is on pace to record the lowest walk rate of his career. Plus, he’s only allowed 13 homers.
I think everyone’s memory of Lynn’s time in pinstripes was his odd usage in the Division Series, but the fact is that he was pretty good in the regular season here. He threw 54.1 innings with the Yankees last season and had a 4.14 ERA and 2.17 FIP. So yeah, I’d definitely bring him back. He’s owed $10 million per year in 2020 and 2021, which is very reasonable. I don’t see it happening though.
Robert asks: Have there been any discussions or any data that shows how the size of the bases causes more leg/ankle/groin injuries than bases that are shorter? Are any leagues testing smaller bases or bases made of softer material? Running full speed only to step onto a 3-5″ higher surface mid-stride seems like a recipe for the occasional injury.
Robert also passed along this link from 2014 about the hazards of the bases that Major League Baseball uses. I haven’t seen any studies that show if the size of the base has anything to do with injuries. In all likelihood, that’s because the data just doesn’t exist. Yet, interestingly enough and under MLB’s guidance, the Atlantic League is experimenting with larger bases this year:
And as far as increasing the base size? The league said the decision is two-pronged: It should increase player safety by allowing fielders and runners more room on the base, and it hopes batting average on ground balls and stolen base percentage will slightly improve by making the bases closer together.
You’ve probably seen breakaway bases in Little League games and such, as a precaution for sliding injuries, but it’s hard to imagine that making it’s way to the pros. Umpires think it could cause issues on close calls.
Other than that, no other base-types currently used immediately come to mind. I’d have to imagine that a softer bag could result spikes caught, which would be even more troublesome. Perhaps at some point, the Atlantic League could try lower bases to test Robert’s theory about base height being an issue. For now, the current experiment is the closest we have to any real change happening.
Ray asks: will Tauchman’s hot streak make it more or less likely the Bombers move Clint Frazier, if not by the deadline then over the winter?
Tauchman has indeed been hot, as Bobby just wrote about. But, I don’t think his recent play has anything to do with Frazier’s future here. Tauchman will be 29 in December, whereas Frazier doesn’t turn 25 until September. The latter’s upside is much, much higher than the former’s, though perhaps Tauchman has a higher floor.
Anyway, there is a role for Frazier on this team in 2020 if the Yankees want him around. Brett Gardner and Edwin Encarnación will be free agents, which will leave the left field and designated hitter roles available for Stanton and another player to share. Frazier could be that guy. Tauchman seems best suited as a role player.
Jonathan asks: There have been more and more rumors about an international draft coming in the next few years. It seems like this have a dramatically negative affect on the Yankees. The Yankees always were aggressive and get top talent every year from the international draft (see Jasson Dominguez). They always pick at the end of the draft so the only way to get prime talent is through IFA. Do you think they will be able to adjust?
Indeed, Major League Baseball is looking to institute an International Draft. If the league gets what it wishes, it will certainly make things tougher for the Yankees. IFA Bonus pools have already made it tougher on the Yankees, though that doesn’t necessarily cut off access to certain prospects like a draft would.
Nonetheless, I am not concerned about the Yankees struggling to adjust. They’ve unearthed a bunch of heralded prospects and big leaugers for minimal bonuses on July 2, which theoretically they could continue to do with later selections. For example, Luis Severino, who signed for $225,000. Another: Estevan Florial, $200,000.