Yankees Inbox: When will The Martian return?

June 10th, 2024

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.

NEW YORK -- The Bronx played host to an electric atmosphere this past weekend, featuring a much-anticipated showdown between two large-market clubs with heavy expectations and rich, shared histories. And while the series against the Dodgers didn’t quite go how the Yankees would have preferred, the ballpark certainly felt a lot like October all three nights.

As the Yankees head west to begin a four-game series with the Royals beginning Monday, let’s open up the Yankees Inbox and field some fan questions:

Is there an estimation of when will be brought back up? -- Jack G., via e-mail
This was the most-asked question we received this week, by far, as Domínguez (the Yankees' No. 1 prospect and No. 30 overall) continues to rake at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Domínguez homered for a second consecutive day on Sunday, playing nine innings in center field for the first time during his rehab from Tommy John surgery. In five games at Triple-A, Domínguez is 10-for-20 (.500), and he’s batting .380 (27-for-71) across his rehab. From a physical standpoint, all indications are that Domínguez is just about ready.

Now here’s the wrinkle: With Juan Soto expected to return to the lineup this week in Kansas City, the Yankees still plan to pump the brakes and keep their top prospect in the Minors. Why? They do not see a path for Domínguez to get regular playing time, at least not if Soto, Aaron Judge, Alex Verdugo and Giancarlo Stanton are all healthy and active.

“[Domínguez] is playing well and in a good spot,” manager Aaron Boone said on Sunday. “We certainly know what he’s capable of. When it’s his time, we’ll be excited for that because we know what kind of impact he can have. We’re not going to rush that, either. It will be when it’s right.”

Since New York wants Domínguez to continue developing and getting at-bats, having him replace someone like Trent Grisham on the active roster doesn’t make sense, because he would play sparingly in that scenario. It might not be an ideal situation for Domínguez, who recently said, “Obviously, I can’t control that. I’m just playing, making my progress. When the time comes, we’ll see what happens.”

Take solace in this, though. As Boone said: “[When] he comes up here, he’s going to play. That avenue is going to have to be there.”

When will Gerrit Cole return to the rotation? -- Billy G., via Instagram
Cole said that he expects to make at least one more rehab start in the Minors. Everything has gone as well as could be expected thus far, with Cole building to 57 pitches in his most recent outing on Sunday afternoon. That would put him around 70 pitches next time out, likely on Friday; both Double-A Somerset and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre are on the road, so perhaps that start would be for High-A Hudson Valley.

It depends on how Cole feels after that outing, and he will have a lot of input in the decision. Would the Yankees bring him back to face the Orioles on June 19 or 20? Possibly, but maybe the June 25-26 Subway Series against the Mets is a better landing spot. Either way, all indications are that Cole will be pitching in the Majors by the end of the month.

What are the Yankees going to do about ? -- Tyler L., via Instagram
Boone benched Rizzo on Sunday and indicated that he could sit on Monday as well, saying, “I just felt like it was time.” In seven games this month, Rizzo is 1-for-29 (.034) with a double, a walk and three strikeouts. His underlying metrics have also been weak.

Rizzo and hitting coach James Rowson have spoken about the work going on behind the scenes, though it has not translated into results -- especially lately. Expect to see DJ LeMahieu pick up some additional starts at first base in the short term; the Yanks were unable to rest Rizzo much early this season because of LeMahieu’s absence, and that might have come at a price.

What moves do you think will be made at the Trade Deadline? -- Javier, via X
Upgrading the bullpen will be an area of focus as July 30 approaches. That remains an area where general manager Brian Cashman will likely seek to supplement, though Michael Tonkin and Luke Weaver have been unexpected finds. Sure, everyone would love to trade for someone like the Athletics’ Mason Miller, but not if the sky-high asking price costs New York Domínguez or No. 2 prospect Spencer Jones.

The past several years have seen the Yanks import bullpen help at more reasonable prices (think Scott Effross, Andrew Heaney, Keynan Middleton or Joely Rodriguez, just to name a few). Expect to see them shop in that market again.

The right side of the infield seems to be a more pressing concern, with Rizzo and Gleyber Torres both offering below-average production -- though that’s not going to be easily addressed. Though Torres has been a trade candidate over the past few seasons, he’s earning $14.2 million this year, his last under contract before free agency. All indications are that the Yankees intend to get younger there, dating back to when Hal Steinbrenner said his ideal future infield would have Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza up the middle.