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Inbox: Is reunion with Betances, Didi in cards? 

Beat reporter Bryan Hoch fields Yankees fans' questions
November 30, 2019

NEW YORK -- Free agents Dellin Betances and Didi Gregorius, the starting rotation and more are discussed in the latest Inbox. Is there any news to report on a potential landing spot for Betances? -- Bryan S., via Twitter It’s a good bet that Betances’ market will pick up steam

NEW YORK -- Free agents Dellin Betances and Didi Gregorius, the starting rotation and more are discussed in the latest Inbox.

Is there any news to report on a potential landing spot for Betances?
-- Bryan S., via Twitter

It’s a good bet that Betances’ market will pick up steam soon; MLB.com recently ranked him as the top free-agent reliever available following the Yankees’ decision to extend Aroldis Chapman’s contract by a year and the Braves’ moves to secure Will Smith and Chris Martin. Of course, any interested teams will have to weigh Betances’ recent All-Star performance against the fact that he pitched in just one big league game this past season due to injuries.

On the positive side, Betances was finally able to recover from the right shoulder injury that kept him out until that Sept. 15 appearance at Rogers Centre, when he sustained a partial tear to his left Achilles tendon. General manager Brian Cashman has promised that the Yankees will “keep in touch” during Betances’ free agency. Worth noting: Zack Britton said that it took him the better part of a year to return to form following his Achilles tear in December 2017.

“I thought mine was career-ending,” Britton said. “The doctor told me he was going to have me back and I was going to be fine. That’s what I told Dellin. ‘You’re going to be back. You’re going to be pitching again.’ He put the work in to get back, and he’ll do it again. I told him, if anything, it’ll give his body a chance to rest and he’s going to be better than ever.”

Are the Yanks still pursuing Gregorius?
-- Michael C., via Twitter

My sense is that their interest level has not changed regarding Gregorius -- they’d like to have him back, but not at any price, and starting pitching remains their top priority. Internally, the Yankees seem to believe that Gleyber Torres is capable of handling everyday duties at shortstop, which could set up a double-play combination of Torres and DJ LeMahieu up the middle.

The Yankees did attempt to sign Gregorius to an extension this past spring, when they were able to secure long-term deals with Aaron Hicks and Luis Severino, but the sides were too far apart to reach common ground. That suggests that Gregorius intends to explore free agency, with the Phillies and Reds among the clubs who have been said to be interested. The Brewers have also been mentioned as a possibility.

Do you think that the Yankees’ recent actions with Jacoby Ellsbury will impact their pursuit of Gerrit Cole?
-- Michael W., New York

In case you missed it, the Yankees’ relationship with Ellsbury officially ended last week when the club released him, and it initially appeared that the club would be on the hook for the remaining $26 million of the outfielder’s seven-year, $153 million contract. That may not be the case, as the Yankees intend to challenge that by converting Ellsbury’s deal to non-guaranteed, alleging that he received unauthorized treatment from an Atlanta clinic.

The MLB Players Association swiftly responded with a statement that said they would “vigorously defend any action taken against Jacoby or his contract,” adding that they are “investigating potential contract violations by his employer.” The plot thickens because Ellsbury’s agent is Scott Boras, who happens to represent Cole as well.

So what you’re essentially asking is: Would Boras steer clients away from New York due to the Ellsbury situation? Only he knows for sure, but in theory every negotiation should be separate, and the Ellsbury mess could take longer to untangle than finding Cole a new home. On the other hand, if the Yankees are somehow able to avoid that payout, that $26 million could cover most of the first season of a potential Cole contract.

I still believe that if the Yankees are going to land Cole, they’ll need to outbid everyone, as they did with CC Sabathia in December 2008. If they don’t, Southern California probably awaits.

Are the Yankees counting on Domingo Germán as a part of their rotation for 2020?
-- Linda T., Paramus, N.J.

On some level, yes, though it is anyone’s guess when they will have his services. While MLB’s investigation continues into the domestic violence allegations against Germán, Cashman said that he is being provided with no information or updates as to the potential penalties that await.

It seems reasonable to assume that Germán will pitch next season, but also quite likely that he will not be available for Opening Day. Each situation is different under MLB’s domestic violence policy; since 2015, players disciplined have been handed suspensions of as few as 15 games (Jeurys Familia of the Mets and Steven Wright of the Red Sox), or as many as 100 (José Torres of the Padres). Two investigated players have also not been disciplined at all.

What are the chances of the Yankees acquiring Francisco Lindor?
-- Kevin S., Comerio, Puerto Rico

Not great, but not zero, either. The Indians are said to have been receiving numerous calls regarding Lindor, and it would be a shock if the Yankees were not among those checking in. Miguel Andújar provides an enticing trade chip, but in order to outbid teams like the Dodgers, Phillies and Reds, the Yanks would likely have to include top prospects like Deivi Garcia and/or Jasson Dominguez in any potential swap.

The buzz out of Cleveland is that Lindor is expected to begin 2020 as the Indians’ shortstop, but that he could become a prime target in July, as pitcher Trevor Bauer did this past year.

What do you think of the Yankees pursuing Corey Kluber?
-- Noah B., via email

I would have liked that idea a lot more a year ago. Kluber’s 2019 season was one to forget, cut short on May 1 when he was hit in the right elbow by a comebacker. He wasn’t exactly pitching like the ‘Klubot’ before that, though -- only two of his previous six starts were of the quality variety, including stinkers against the White Sox (April 3) and Royals (April 14).

At $17.5 million for next season, Kluber will be more affordable than the top free-agent arms, but he’s also 33 years old, and there is no guarantee that he will return to his 2014-18 form. Plus, there would be a player cost that is not present if the Yanks chase free agents like Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler or Madison Bumgarner.