Mailbag: The future of the Infield and the loaded farm system

Good start to the weekend to all of you! Let’s hope it goes better for the Yankees than yesterday after another bullpen fail (We miss you Loaisiga!).

Now, to today’s subject. The mailbag! I’m pinch-hitting for Bobby on this one and hope to do at least partially as well as he does. Remember to send us any questions you have to viewsfrom314@gmail.com so we can have a little chat about it next Friday.

The first two are about the infield configuration for next season with a focus on a certain underperforming SS this season. Let’s bunch them together:

Embed from Getty Images

Andrew sets this hypothetical scenario for Gleyber: Let’s assume that, recent hot streak aside, he finishes the season with a slash line similar to where he currently sits. Which of the following 3 scenarios would be your preferred choice:

  1. Sign one of the top tier free agent SS (your choice of Seager, Story, Correa, Baez). Trade Gleyber, with his value at a relative low point. Keep the rest of the infield intact.
  2. Sign one of the top tier free agent SS. Move Gleyber back to 2B. Your choice how you’d like to configure the rest of the infield and clear the logjam, but outline your preferred configuration, excluding the option of putting someone as a depth piece on the bench. One of DJLM, Voit, and Gio has to go.
  3. Keep the infield intact, exactly as it is when the team is healthy, and bet on a Gleyber bounce back. However, rather than investing in a top tier free agent shortstop, you can invest in a player at a different position in one of the next 2 off-seasons (name that player).

George asks: We all know there will be several SSs available in free agency. The Yanks also seem to have several good ones in the minors, like Peraza and Volpe. Do you think they’ll go after a free agent, or count on a player in the minors, long term, and maybe sign someone like Simmons, to fill in the gap?

That was a long one, and a really thorough and fun hypothetical to think about!

Assuming he ends with a similar season to what he’s doing right now, that means it will probably be around the ballpark of a 90 wRC+ and an OAA stat in the 4th percentile of MLB (Yikes). That’s definitely not good enough to start for a competing team for sure.

He probably won’t be as bad as he has been this season in terms of offense, but I wouldn’t expect the lofty numbers that were thrown around after 2018. I think something more along the lines of his career xwOBA of .333 (that’s slightly above league average most of the time) would be the correct expectation for him, not a world-beater, but a decent player still.

When you then add the quality of the free agents coming into the season the answer becomes even more clear. They shouldn’t keep him at SS. And that means a free agent signing is needed.

My personal preference would be to definitely go after one of the big guys in free agency. I think Javy Báez is not going to be available as he probably will re-sign with the Cubs, and to be honest he is the only guy in that group I wouldn’t like. Let’s compare the other 3 guys (current age in parenthesis):

  • Cory Seager (27):
    Absolutely love the bat and the fact he is a lefty, he has a career .363 wOBA and that is brought down severely by his weirdly bad 2018 season, otherwise it would be closer to his career xwOBA of .373. He normally averages exit velos that go from really good (91-92) to elite (93) ranges, and couples that with a low 18.8 career K% and a slightly above average 9.1 BB% The main problem here is his defense, he averages about 2 OAA per season weighting by the attemps he had in each of them. That may sound decent but compared to the other guys he lags behind here. Substract some more points for his injury history as well.
  • Trevor Story (28):
    Even though he doesn’t have the huge exit velos that Seager has, they are still above average with a career value of 90.6 mph. You can most definitely work with that. He also has a weirdly similar career wOBA of .362 (that is actually brought down by this year’s .290 BABIP fueled slump, career value of .340). But, in his case he consistently outperforms his xwOBA .337, and has worse worse career K% (22) and BB% (8.4) than Seager’s. In terms of the glove he is much better, he averages aorund 10 (!!) OAA per season weighting by his attempts. In terms of speed he is the fastest of the group, with a 28.7 sprint speed that rankes in the 88% percentile this year in MLB, this is probably why there are rumours of a certain team that wants to trade for him and try him in CF (Definitely sounds like the Yankees). His injury history is very clean in contrast to the other guys.
  • Carlos Correa (26)
    The youngest and probably the best bet of the group going forward all thing considered (even though I hate him). He averages the lowest exit velo of the group by a smidge (89.9), and that is still above average. His career wOBA is .356, right in line with his career xwOBA of .355, it is worth highlighting he’s the most inconsistent of the group in terms of this stat with a couple of seasons under .315 and a couple elite ones over .380 (!!) that kind of average out. He also has a really good career K% (20.8) and the best career BB% of the group with a 10.8 value. In terms of defense OAA loves him, he averages a 5.8 value per season when weighting for his attempts. He does carry the most scary injury profile with a history of back injuries that has persevered through the years.

If I were a completely non-emotional being I would probably go Correa given his age and combination of both offensive and defensive prowess. I’m not that and I can’t stand him so he’s not my preference over the other two guys. I would probably go with Seager, but for the purpose of this exercise let’s say we go with Story. He looks like the most attainable one given his availability this trade deadline.

That means one guy has to go from the Gleyber, Gio, DJ, and Voit group. I would first try to get something from Gleyber, more specifically maybe the Reds still want him in a trade for Luis Castillo (who weirdly had a really rough start to the season and has been picking it up recently as well). If a similarly high upside player is not obtainable in a Gleyber trade, I would pivot to trade Voit, whose injury history has made him completely unreliable for the team. I realize that as such they won’t get much at all for him. That leaves a preferred Gio-Story-Gleyber-DJ infield with Odor as the main backup as the preferred option for me, although you can replace Story with either Seager or Correa and it would still be pretty darned good.

Finally, for the wave of exciting SS prospects in Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, and Alexander Vargas. I love the profiles for the first two as legit shortstops that are currently showing 90+ average exit velo’s in the minors. That being said, I definitely don’t think they are ready to start next season and a stopgap like let’s say Andrelton Simmons would be such a lesser option to the big names available.

This doesn’t mean that they will be blocked forever, or at all actually. The beauty of SS prospects is that they are athletic enough to play other positions such as 2B and 3B. That way when they are ready, they can start over an aging Gio if he declines or over Gleyber if he doesn’t turn it around. Heck, if everyone plays to their respective potential you can get wild and try one of the prospects in the OF. The more good players the merrier; just go ask the Dodgers about that.

That was quite long and fun to think about, I hope I answered both questions clearly and didn’t overextend in the process (okay maybe hope that I didn’t overextend waaay too much in the process). Next question!

Matt asks: Any explanation why Yankees internet/Twitter believes it is smart to move DJ to first base at the deadline (acquire a SS) or next year (trade Voit)? I am not opposed to trading Voit but wouldn’t DJ bring more value in taking over third base? I feel his numbers would negate losing Gio and he is the best trade chip. Can you break down where DJ’s best theoretical fit would be if moving off second?

More infield stuff, nice! Hahaha. I wanted to separate this one a bit even if I did kind of go over it a bit on the first two questions.

Let’s start by stating the obvious here that indeed moving DJ from 2B to 1B would hurt his value because of positional differences. Both 2B and 3B are more difficult to play than 1B and as such are more valuable. Then, why the heck was I proposing DJ at 1B after the first question? Well, basically because it sadly looks like DJ has regressed in defense since the start of last season.

The evidence still is slightly less than a full season, so there is still hope that it is just a fluke thing. That said, DJ is already 33 and it is definitely not out of the realm of possibilities that this is age-related decline. He hasn’t been awful, but he has posted -2 and 0 values of OAA in 2B for last season and this one, respectively. His 3B OAA tells just a slightly better story, with a perfectly neutral 0 value for this season and last in decidedly fewer attempts.

Plus, I think that Gio is a better player and a much more reliable one than Voit and the decision becomes easy for me. DJLM’s best fit should be mainly playing 1B in the future once the Yankees upgrade SS and move Gleyber to 2B as stated before. I know Gio would get more in a possible trade but he is also more valuable to us in competing for this season and the next ones.

Ok, on to the last one.

Sam asks: I think the unquestionable best story of this Yankees season has been the success of a number of their minor leaguers. The top picks/prospects like Volpe, Wells, Dominguez, Gil, Peraza have been thriving, but so have less hyped (lower-ranked) players like Park, Waldichuk, Otto, and Junk. How hyped should we be about this club’s farm system (Deivi’s struggles aside)? And how much should we temper our expectations for the leaps these prospects have made? Is there a chance that the year off landed prospects at a level they shouldn’t be? Thus so many huge seasons?

First of all, I agree that this is an amazing story for the season and really exciting to follow!

I think we should definitely be excited about the up-the-middle talent that has been killing it in the minors. When a lot of athletic guys are also doing the hitting part of the game really well, it’s a pretty good recipe for success. So yeah, I’m really excited for Jasson (obviously), Peraza, and Volpe. Even more when you add the high exit velo’s reported for each of them. That trio of guys, for me, are the 3 best prospects in the system right now.

The pitchers are a bit more tricky. For Medina and Gil specifically, they are now coupling the huge arms with good results and that bodes well for the future. But as the old adage goes: pitchers will break your heart. They are more susceptible to injuries than the position players and as such, they are even more high-risk, high-reward prospects. Still, Medina’s stuff is so ridiculously good that it makes me really excited for him and makes me have him as my clear 4th best prospect in the system.

After those guys, Wells’s bat does seem to be legit although the defensive part of the equation is really shady for him. And I’m really intrigued by Hoy Jun Park’s improvements, he’s always been a legit SS defender and taken walks. If the Yankees have indeed managed to up his exit velo’s and that has led to more power, it is quite an interesting profile. It is also worth remembering that this guy was a legit big-ticket in IFA when they signed him, so maybe it’s just a case of a late bloomer.

As for the last part of the question, Sam does formulate some interesting ideas about why this might be happening. Maybe the Yankees MiLB development system is that much better than most teams and that’s why their guys have come out of the gate killing it this season. It’s a valid hypothesis although one really hard to confirm. Maybe the pandemic hit other teams more and they are using more filler guys in the minors than legit potential players, that could be another cause of the Yankees’ domination in in the minors this season.

As you can see, I’m excited for the player’s development in the minors, although I must emphasize this next part. There will probably be a huge logjam in the future for 40-man roster spots, and as such, they will need to trade some of these guys as much as we may like them. I trust the Yankees to do a better evaluation than we can at Views, and therefore trust their picks of who are the real keepers in that group. Our own personal valuations or likings be dammed.

Now go get some dudes for the MLB team, please!

Advertisements

Previous

DoTF: Duran hits for cycle and Lockridge’s power surge continues

Next

Prospect Profile: Jasson Dominguez

4 Comments

  1. WaitingOnTheKids

    Voit is too injury-prone to keep and expect that he will play 145 games a year. His knees/back/feet will only get worse with age. DJ to 1B and Gleyber back to 2B is a logical fit, but I can see Cashman sticking to his guns that “Gleyber is the SS of the future.”

  2. dasit

    health is a skill. i’d choose story over correa and seager

    • Dani

      Agreed. In addition I like to have a great defender at SS and Story is the best defender of those 3. I also expect Correa and Seager to get better contracts, so I guess that’s another plus to target Story.

      btw: I’d keep all of the current infielders. They could use DJLM the way he was originally expected to be used: as a utility player that plays pretty much every day and gets the other guys regular days off. I still believe in Gleyber’s bat but I don’t think he should be the Yanks’ SS in the future.

    • Aaron

      I agree. Talented but injury-prone guys are nice to have when the roster has enough depth and flexibility to get around their almost inevitable time on the IL (in turn meaning that you can only have so many of such players before it strains said depth and flexibility). Unfortunately, this season has shown the team’s limits in both areas.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén