Yankees Inbox: Stanton, next year's rotation and more

October 16th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Bryan Hoch’s Yankees Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

It has been two weeks since the Yankees packed their bats and balls for the winter, scattering after their final game of the regular season in Kansas City.

As the Astros, Rangers, Phillies and Diamondbacks battle to punch their respective tickets to the World Series, the Yankees are on the outside looking in, hoping to be one of the last teams standing at this time next season.

With that in mind, let’s take the pulse of the fan base and dive into the Yankees Inbox:

What are the Yankees going to do about Giancarlo Stanton? -- Rebecca B.
The Stanton dilemma really complicates the offseason, and there’s no simple solution. Stanton acknowledged that his performance this past year (.191 BA, 24 HRs in 101 games) was unacceptable and said that he would spend the winter seeking solutions -- he believes that he needs only “minor” tweaks, but must make “the right ones.”

With Stanton owed $98 million through 2027 on a deal that includes a no-trade clause, it’s unlikely the Yankees will have a choice other than to plug Stanton back in as an outfielder and designated hitter. Aaron Boone and Aaron Judge both said they believe Stanton has the physical tools for a rebound, but Stanton’s lack of speed on the basepaths and in the outfield was alarming, even if he was throttling to avoid injuries. Expect a significant part of Stanton’s offseason program to focus on lower-half mobility.

Do you think they will push hard for Yoshinobu Yamamoto? -- Gordon W.
Brian Cashman and other members of the baseball operations team certainly weren’t traveling halfway around the world to bolster their frequent-flyer accounts. In fact, Cashman was in the front row for Yamamoto’s Sept. 9 no-hitter, producing a terrific photo that showed Cashman applauding as Yamamoto raised his glove to acknowledge the crowd.

That performance won’t hurt the Yanks’ evaluation, but there is plenty of competition for the 25-year-old right-hander, including from the deep-pocketed Mets. Yamamoto is expected to be posted this winter by the Orix Buffaloes, a process that could begin around Dec. 1. It has been speculated that Yamamoto’s contract could approach $200 million.

Do you think they’ll try to bring back Frankie Montas? -- Nick L.
The wind appears to be blowing in that direction, considering the organization otherwise had no incentive to activate Montas during the final series of the regular season in Kansas City. There wasn’t much to be gleaned from his 1 1/3 innings, other than that he seemed healthy, and so the Yanks could be interested in a short-term contract to see if Montas can contribute: maybe one guaranteed year close to the $7.5 million he earned this past year, with a club option for 2025.

What is your honest opinion on the ‘audit?’ -- Martin P.
A point of clarification here: what the Yankees are planning this winter is not the same as what the Astros did in 2017 and 2018, when auditors from McKinsey & Co. provided a Fortune 500-style evaluation of how the team did business. Instead, the Yankees are contracting with an outside analytics firm to compare notes. The scope of the so-called ‘audit’ will not include reviews of Cashman, Boone or others in the front office. I’m curious to see what comes of it, but I don’t expect there to be sweeping changes.

Is Sean Casey returning as the hitting coach? -- Eleanor H.
It’s possible, though nothing has been announced yet. On Oct. 1, Casey said he’d received no offer from Cashman, though Boone said Casey was “a breath of fresh air” during his half-season. Casey said he “really enjoyed being back in the dugout” and earned praise from several veterans, including DJ LeMahieu, who said that Casey helped reclaim checkpoints of his swing.

What is the plan with Oswald Peraza? -- Matthew B.
File this one under ‘to be determined.’ The Yankees are not interested in trading Peraza, but their crowded infield creates a puzzle: LeMahieu will get at-bats at first base, second base and third base, Anthony Volpe is returning as the starting shortstop, and Gleyber Torres remains the starting second baseman.

The Yankees could conceivably bring Peraza into camp as a rover at second base, third base or shortstop, though a Torres trade remains on the table. Torres is arbitration eligible and would be looking at a raise over the $9.95 million he earned this past year; if Hal Steinbrenner is serious about having Volpe and Peraza as the future of the middle infield, as he’s said, then this might be the time to move Torres.