The starting rotation is still an issue. Any chance the team fills that from the outside with Sonny Gray or Yu Darvish?
-- Matt B., Utah
That's certainly in play, as both right-handers would represent a very nice upgrade to what the Yankees are currently trotting out. The narrative is largely the same that it was when the Yanks were trying to acquire Jose Quintana from the White Sox -- they still have a top-ranked system but are disinclined to part with their most elite prospects.
Some players a notch below (shortstop Jorge Mateo, for example) could help anchor such a trade. In the wake of Michael Pineda's season-ending injury, general manager Brian Cashman recently noted how difficult it is to acquire starting pitching in this market, and he said: "As we continue to try to navigate through those discussions, there may or may not be a positive resolution to that."
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If the Yankees aren't able to match up on a deal that they feel comfortable with, Cashman believes that the fruits of the White Sox trade and potentially another move between now and the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline could work to shorten the game with a power bullpen that works backward from the ninth inning on.
What will happen to Clint Frazier when Aaron Hicks returns?
-- Josh P., via Twitter
Despite how well Frazier has played since being summoned from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Cashman said that Frazier will be the odd man out when Hicks is activated from the disabled list, though exactly when that will happen is still up in the air.
Hicks had a rather significant oblique injury and will only be starting light baseball activities on the upcoming homestand. That likely buys Frazier at least a week to 10 days, assuming everything goes fine with Hicks. Frazier almost certainly would be called back up when rosters expand on Sept. 1.
Why not shop Jacoby Ellsbury?
-- Eric S., via Twitter
Easier said than done, considering Ellsbury has three years and $68 million remaining on his contract after this season, as well as a full no-trade clause. Cashman has said in the past that Ellsbury's contract is not movable, though that was before he became a very expensive spare part on the bench.
Manager Joe Girardi has said that he plans on going with the "hot hand," and that hasn't been Ellsbury, who is just 11-for-62 (.177) since returning from the disabled list in late June. Ellsbury had essentially lost his starting job while on the disabled list, as Girardi said he planned to play Hicks over him, but that issue was settled by Hicks' oblique injury.
It was telling that Girardi preferred to have Ronald Torreyes face the right-hander Edwin Diaz in the ninth inning on Saturday, instead using the left-handed Ellsbury as a pinch-runner. Ellsbury has largely said the right things since seeing his role diminish, but he clearly views himself as an everyday player, and that opportunity may no longer exist in New York.
In the unlikely event of a trade, the Yankees would almost certainly have to eat the majority of Ellsbury's contract. That would be a tough sell. Consider this: The Steinbrenner family held their nose and swallowed what was left of Alex Rodriguez's contract almost a year ago, but Ellsbury isn't retiring and he is still due more than 2 1/2 times that amount.
I know the radar gun shows over 100 mph, but I still feel Albertin Chapman is not right. Do you think he's hiding a physical ailment?
-- Will F., via e-mail
It's worth watching. Remember, this is a phenomenal athlete we're talking about; Chapman was pitching with inflammation in his left rotator cuff and still hit 100 mph five times on May 12 against the Astros, then went on the disabled list. The velocity is still present and he's not getting hit particularly hard, but Chapman's command and ability to miss bats is absent.
Since the All-Star break, Chapman has thrown 110 pitches in six appearances against the Red Sox, Twins and Mariners. According to Statcast™, those generated just eight swings and misses, and only three on fastballs. That's alarming. Is it the World Series hangover, an injury or hitters simply adjusting to heat? It could even be a combination of those.
Do you see Girardi using Dellin Betances more in the seventh inning and Player Page for David Robertson in the eighth going forward?
-- Robert D., New Jersey
It looks like that is how Girardi plans on lining it up, though he has the flexibility to mix and match a few different ways now that they've added Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. Betances obviously has handled the seventh inning in the past, so that shouldn't be an issue, and Robertson said that he doesn't "have a big ego, so I'll pitch whenever they need me to."
When can we expect to see Chance Adams in New York?
-- Sean O., via Twitter
Great question. I get the sense that the Yankees are of the mindset that when they finally promote Adams -- New York's No. 6 prospect, per MLBPipeline.com -- they do not want to have to send him back to the Minors, which is why they have been so careful about trying to ensure he will be a finished product. Girardi has mentioned command and incorporating his third pitch as the main things Adams still needs to work on in Triple-A.
At some point in the near future, though, Adams may run out of things to prove against the competition down there. He's 6-3 with a 2.37 ERA in 13 starts with the RailRiders, striking out 67 against 27 walks while permitting just 40 hits in 68 1/3 innings.
Is Dustin Fowler getting big league salary while he is on the disabled list, as he was injured in a Major League game?
-- Joyce P., Virginia
Yes, which should make the wait for Fowler's first big league at-bat a little easier to handle. While he rehabs, he is earning a prorated portion of the league-minimum $535,000 salary. A full recovery is expected to take four to six weeks, and Fowler vows to be ready for Spring Training.