Inbox: What can Yankees expect from Gregorius?
Beat reporter Bryan Hoch answers fans' questions
It's all set to kick into high gear here in Tampa, Fla., where Yankees pitchers and catchers are due to report on Friday. There may be historic cold up north, but here, it's definitely springtime. Here's another installment of what fans are talking about:
Do you believe Didi Gregorius will have a big impact or a small impact on the Yanks?
-- Jacky H., New York, N.Y.
It's a wide-ranging question, but to boil it down, having a plus-defender up the middle at age 24 should represent an upgrade over the ground that Derek Jeter covered in his final season. Gregorius' bat is still a question, and there will be a ton of talk about replacing Jeter, but it's overwhelming to think about equaling five World Series championships, 3,465 hits and all of the other stuff on Jeter's Hall of Fame resume. You can't do it, especially in one year. Realistically, Gregorius doesn't even need to make the All-Star team to help this squad. He just needs to be better than 2014 Jeter, who posted a career-low .617 OPS in 145 games.
Playing home games in Yankee Stadium should help the left-handed-hitting Gregorius; his former Arizona teammate Eric Chavez, now a special assistant to general manager Brian Cashman, recently said that he could see Gregorius being "a good .275, .280 hitter [with] 12 to 15 home runs" as a Yankee. They'd definitely take that, especially if it means Gregorius has ironed out his problems with lefties, who have handcuffed him to a .490 OPS over 180 plate appearances.
If not, the Yanks will platoon him with Brendan Ryan, and Gregorius' career splits against righties are respectable: in 544 plate appearances, he owns a .262/.332/.411 slash line with 13 homers and 51 RBIs. Bottom line, Gregorius should represent an improvement for the Yanks' shortstop position in terms of 2014 vs. 2015, and the trade could pay dividends further down the road if he develops like the organization thinks he will.
Do you see Luis Severino or Aaron Judge playing a role with the 2015 Yankees?
-- Yash K., Montvale, N.J.
You never want to rule it out, but considering their respective ages and where they finished last year -- Judge had 233 at-bats with Class A Advanced Tampa and Severino only threw 25 innings for Double-A Trenton -- it's more likely that you would be looking for their timetables to hit the Bronx at some point in 2016. For Judge and Severino, Spring Training will be a great opportunity to soak up experience, but they won't be competing to make the Opening Day roster.
The Yankees are excited about both, thinking of Severino as a total package of youth and projectable skills, while Judge has drawn rave reviews for his raw power and advanced plate approach. Severino turns 21 this week and Judge will turn 23 in April, so they have time. Assistant general manager Billy Eppler has repeatedly said that they plan to let the players' performance dictate their pace, and so if the numbers pop, promotions will follow.
Severino is ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Yanks' top prospect, while Judge is ranked fifth.
With plenty of hard-throwing lefty options in the bullpen, who do you see making the team out of camp? Could Jacob Lindgren be on the Opening Day roster?
-- Paul G., Chester, Va.
The Yanks toyed with the idea of promoting Lindgren from Double-A to the big leagues last September, so clearly he is on a fast track to the Bronx after beginning 2014 as a closer at Mississippi State before being selected by New York in the second round of the First-Year Player Draft. It's not impossible to think that Lindgren could force his way onto the big league squad, but with only 25 pro innings to his name at this point, the Yanks are cautious about inflating expectations.
More likely, Lindgren will begin the year in the Minors and could make his big league debut later in the season; scouts have said that Lindgren's fastball-slider combination is close to big league-ready. The Yanks have a couple of more experienced lefties in Justin Wilson and Chasen Shreve favored in the battle for bullpen spots, while James Pazos and Tyler Webb are not thought to be far behind.
Why didn't the Yankees re-sign Brandon McCarthy?
-- Mike C., Union City, N.J.
There was talk about it internally, but the Yanks' thinking was that McCarthy's free-agent market was going to enter a neighborhood that they did not want to play in. That proved to be true, as McCarthy signed a four-year, $48 million deal with the Dodgers. The Yanks made two high-rent signings this winter in Andrew Miller (four years, $36 million) and Chase Headley (four years, $52 million), and though they loved what McCarthy did in the second half last year, getting into a bidding war with the Dodgers seemed unappealing considering how low McCarthy's stock was when they flipped Vidal Nuno to the D-backs for him.
Please explain the workings on all the movement that Gonzalez Germen has made in the last month or so.
-- Bruce M., Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.
You'll probably win a bar bet if you can memorize the details of the most recent Yankees-Mets trade. To refresh, it happened on Dec. 19, when the Yanks acquired the 27-year-old Germen from the Mets in exchange for cash considerations. At the time, the Yanks talked about his improved strike-throwing ability and a chance for him to help later this season. It was the first deal between the crosstown rivals since Dec. 3, 2004, when the Yanks re-acquired Mike Stanton in exchange for Felix Heredia.
Germen didn't last long in the Yanks' system; he was designated for assignment on Jan. 13 when the Yankees claimed right-hander Chris Martin from the Rockies, then was traded to the Rangers in exchange for cash on Jan. 20. Texas DFA'd Germen a day later to make room for catcher Carlos Corporan on their 40-man roster, and the Cubs claimed Germen on Jan. 23. He was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa on Feb. 13, so it appears Germen can finally rest after going through four organizations in two months.
What's the situation on Stephen Drew? I understand that if he performs he'll stay and play, but if he does not perform, how long will he be with the team before getting released?
-- Chris D., Bohemia, N.Y.
There's no ticking clock, and it seems unfair to think that the buzzards should start circling if Drew has a slow two weeks out of the gate in April. The Yanks would be very happy if Drew reverts to his 2013 form, and for the moment, this allows them to be a bit stronger and deeper while buying development time for Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder.
Much like the Chris Capuano signing, at $5 million, the investment doesn't prohibit them from switching directions if it's not working. My best guess would be to point toward last year's Brian Roberts experiment; he got 348 plate appearances before the Yanks decided to trade for Drew.