Happy Friday, everyone. It’s been a while since our last mailbag, but now that Spring Training is approaching, we’re bringing it back. We have a few good questions to address today. But before that: if you’d like to be considered for a future edition, please email viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com with your questions. We plan to choose our favorites each week. Now to the mailbag.
Dan asks: What is the Yankees equivalent of the [Andrew Benintendi] trade that just happened? I have to think KC would still be interested in moving him considering they’re rebuilding.
I disagree that the Royals would be interested in flipping Benintendi, but let’s go with it. Kansas City sent two players to be named later, Franchy Cordero, and prospect Khalil Lee in the three-team deal that netted them Benintendi. Let’s break Cordero and Lee down and then look for matches in the Yankees’ organization.
Cordero, 26, has tons of raw power but has yet to really tap into it. Even though his exit velocity has reached 117 MPH, he has just 12 homers and owns a .197 isolated power in his big league career (315 PA). That’s not awful power output, I guess. But tack on a very high strikeout rate (34.9 percent) and poor defense: the flaws are clear. PECOTA has him as a +1 WARP player with an 89 DRC+ in 507 plate appearance this year, which isn’t good. Last, He’s under team control for the next three seasons and has two minor league options left.
The Yankees don’t really have a good equivalent here. I guess Mike Tauchman would be the closest? The problem is that Tauchman’s offensive potential isn’t near Cordero’s. Tauchman’s a much better defender, at least. Plus, perhaps Tauchman’s extra year of control offsets some of Cordero’s upside (albeit Tauchman has no minor league options left).
As for Lee: he’s a 22 year-old outfielder who topped out at Double-A in 2019. He’s a good prospect who offers raw power, speed, and the ability to play any outfield position (per Baseball Prospectus). However, his high strikeout totals and lack of game power are causes for concern, making him a high-variance prospect.
Lee sounds a bit like Estevan Florial, no? In fact, BP placed a 55 OFP on Florial, the same as the site’s prospects team gave Lee. The publication labeled Florial a high variance prospect too, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given Florial’s recent history with durability.
There’s no way to make a comp to the two players to be named later since…they have yet to be named. They probably won’t be anyone earth-shattering, at least. So, I’m going with Tauchman, Florial and two PTBNL as the Yankees’ match. Can’t help but feel like that’s a little short of what Benintendi actually fetched, though.
Anyway, as I mentioned before, I don’t see Kansas City moving Benintendi anytime soon. Now, if Benintendi rediscovers his pre-2019 form, we can have this conversation once more. At that point, I’m sure the Royals would try to make a move before he hits free agency after the 2022 season. That’s the bet they seem to be making.
I certainly would be interested in bringing in a rejuvenated Benintendi, though. Key word: rejuvenated. He has not looked good for a couple of seasons now. So even though we’ve stated ad nauseam at this here blog that we want a lefty bat on the roster, I’d rather have a more sure thing. Talk to me if and when Benintendi rediscovers his swing.
Dan also asks: Dellin Betances is on the trade block, and is obviously coming off a bad year. The Mets would have to eat some money, but should the Yanks trade for him? What would the Yanks need to give up?
The Mets are indeed looking to move Betances, per the Post’s Mike Puma. He’s due $6 million this season and has a conditional player option for 2022 depending on games finished in 2021. That 2022 option would be no more than $3 million.
I love Dellin as much as the next Yankees fan, but I don’t have much interest in giving him a 40-man spot right now. Almost nothing has gone right for him since 2019.
Now 32, Betances really struggled for the Mets last season. Coming off his achilles rupture recovery (and a shoulder impingement before the achilles rupture), he posted an ugly 7.71 ERA in 15 games for the Mets, including a walk rate (20.3 percent) higher than his strikeout rate (18.6 percent). He also averaged just 93.6 MPH on his fastball, a far cry from his heyday in the Bronx.
With all that in mind, Dellin’s trade value is just about nonexistent. If the Mets really want to move him, they’ll probably have to eat his entire salary. Sure, that would work fine for the budget-conscious Yankees, but there are also more reliable relief options still on the free agent market that the Bombers could pursue. I was all about re-signing Betances last offseason, but at this point, it’s hard to make an argument for re-acquiring him.
Paul asks: What do the Yankees do with Miguel Andújar? If he’s a trade piece, what could they get for him? Or do they keep him and why?
I think the Yankees are going to hold on to Miggy for two reasons. One, he’s insurance for Gio Urshela’s offseason surgery recovery. Two, I don’t think the Yankees want to sell low on him.
Remember, even though Gio should be good to go for Opening Day, he is recovering from offseason surgery to remove a bone chip from his elbow. I’m not really concerned about a setback, but it’s nice to have some extra depth just in case. Andújar may be a poor defender at the hot corner, but he’s far more likely to match (or exceed!) Urshela’s offensive production in the event of Gio’s absence. I’d much rather roll the dice on Miggy at third than Tyler Wade, Thairo Estrada, or a non-roster invitee like Andrew Velazquez.
As for a potential trade return: not much. Andújar’s hit just .193/.219/.257 (25 wRC+) in 114 PAs since 2019 around labrum surgery recovery. That, along with his defensive concerns, has put his trade value in the tank despite such a terrific rookie season in 2018. I can’t even think of a recent trade of a player in a similar situation to compare to.
At this point, the Yankees are better off holding onto Andújar and hoping another year away from surgery gives him a boost. He’ll just have to make the most of his big league opportunities because it’s feasible that he starts 2021 in Triple-A. He needs regular at-bats more than anything, and unless Urshela has a setback or an injury opens up an outfield or DH spot, he’s probably going to get a lot of run in Scranton. Better than nothing though, I guess. He can still rebuild value there.