You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Yankees.
Who do you think has a longer future with the Yankees, Gio Urshela or Miguel Andujar? — Noah Broderick
Wanting to have Andujar’s bat in the lineup, any thought of having Gio Urshela play some shortstop and Andujar at third? — Jerry
Miguel Andujar is 25 and Gio Urshela is 28, so the age advantage goes to Andujar even though Urshela is certainly not old. Neither of them will be eligible for free agency until after the 2023 season. A lot will depend on whether they can perform the way they have in their best seasons.
Andujar hit .297 with 27 homers, 92 RBIs and posted a .855 OPS in 2018. He was expected to start at third base last year, but his season consisted of 12 games and opened the door for Urshela to easily have the best season of his life. In a career-high 132 games, Urshela hit .314 with 21 homers, 74 RBIs, had a .889 OPS and played Gold Glove-caliber defense at third.
There is a scenario in which both Andujar and Urshela stick with the Yankees for a while. Andujar’s bat is real, and the early stages of him playing the outfield in spring training are something to build on. He could also be the DH and occasionally play third base. Urshela doesn’t have to hit .300 to contribute because his defense is elite.
As for Urshela playing short and Andujar at third, it is an interesting idea, but Urshela’s strength is the defense he provides at third and Gleyber Torres has more experience at short than Urshela.
Do [Clint] Frazier or [Tyler] Wade make the Opening Day roster if [Aaron Judge] and [Giancarlo] Stanton are healthy (assuming 26-man roster)? — Jamie Lane
If there is a season, at least at the beginning, MLB might set the number of players higher, which could make room for Frazier.
Had the season started on schedule (March 26), Wade likely would have been on the team and Frazier would have been at Triple-A. The Yankees like Wade’s versatility and speed off the bench.
With Judge, Stanton, Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman healthy, there isn’t really room for Frazier because Wade can play the outfield and Andujar worked there in spring training.
The Yankees, however, believe Frazier’s bat will play in the big leagues and his outfield defense in spring training was improved.
Is Aaron Judge constantly getting hurt because of his size? — Cody Colorado
I don’t believe so.
Judge missed 45 games in 2018 with a fractured wrist — the result of getting hit by a pitch, which can happen to anybody who is in the batter’s box. Last season, he was out for 54 games with an oblique problem, something smaller players have dealt with for years. He arrived in spring training this February with a fractured rib believed to have been suffered while he was diving for a ball last September.
It’s likely his aggressiveness in the outfield led to the rib issue, which was difficult to locate, more so than his size.
Do you think they will sign both [Masahiro] Tanaka and [James] Paxton? — Kerry DeMarco
What is your best guess on whether NYY make a serious attempt to retain Tanaka, Paxton and DJ [LeMahieu] at the conclusion of the 2020 season? — Seth Simon
Let’s combine the questions.
That trio was very important to the Yankees winning the AL East last season, and pitching is hard to find. LeMahieu had an MVP-type season and provides infield versatility.
If Jonathan Loaisiga, Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt are deemed ready for regular big league work in 2021 and Domingo German is healthy, I would rank LeMahieu as the Yankees’ top priority, Tanaka second and Paxton third. This will be Paxton’s first stab at free agency, and no one knows what the market will look like even if this season is played.
Does YES have the rights to WPIX games from the ’80s? If so, why not air some of those games for a change with [Don] Mattingly, [Dave] Winfield, Rickey Henderson, et al., and Scooter at the mic? Would be fun. — Dan McCarey
That is a better question for the YES Network, but television stations didn’t have the archive capabilities today’s networks do.
Who do you think the Yankees will miss the most and why: Didi [Gregorius], [Austin Romine] or Dellin [Betances]? — Gary D
My order would be Gregorius, Romine and Betances.
The Yankees believe Torres can play short well enough. Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Gregorius wasn’t the player he was in 2018, but keeping him would have left Torres at second and LeMahieu to play first, second and third.
With Gary Sanchez’s injury history, Romine was the ideal backup catcher. He was a veteran who worked well with the pitchers, was solid defensively and his bat was productive.
As for Betances, it’s hard to miss what you didn’t have, and Betances pitched two-thirds of an inning due to injuries last year. And the Yankees’ bullpen is still strong. If you are talking about before 2019, Betances would top the list.