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.
Can we expect Gleyber Torres to continue his ascent this year? Any chance the Yankees consider locking him up a la [Ronald] Acuña Jr. [eight years/$100 million from the Braves]? — Brandon Plutner
What we know about the 23-year-old Torres is that the bat is real, even if you believe the 38 home runs he hit a year ago was the product of an extra live ball. Torres will be a middle-of-the-order hitter, if not this year, then soon.
Where the question surfaces is how Torres will handle the move from second base to shortstop, where he will replace the slick-fielding Didi Gregorius. Torres was a shortstop coming through the Cubs system, but he didn’t look polished in 77 games at the position last year, and scouts suggested his footwork at the position wasn’t smooth, which led to awkward throws. Others pointed out Torres didn’t finish plays in the proper manner, and there are voices who wonder whether he has enough range to play short.
In an age when teams often shift three infielders to the same side of second base, the valid question about Torres’ range isn’t that big of an issue. There certainly is enough arm strength for Torres to play short. But five errors in 10 spring training games didn’t come close to smothering the fielding and throwing concerns.
As for offering Torres a long-term contract extension, the Yankees proved they were open to doing that during spring training in 2019, when they signed Luis Severino to a four-year deal for $40 million and Aaron Hicks to a seven-year contract worth $70 million. Severino and Hicks missed large portions of 2019 due to injuries, and Severino had Tommy John surgery this spring.
The Yankees likely will see how Torres performs at short before entering discussions about a multi-year deal.
How could Aaron Judge have a stress fracture in his rib and a punctured lung and not have any signs or symptoms during the entire offseason that he was working out until he arrived at spring training? — Tony Puglisa
You are not alone in asking that question. Judge continued to play after a mid-September dive for a ball that the Yankees and Judge believe caused the problems. Judge also was active in the postseason. Multiple tests early in spring didn’t unearth the rib fracture, which was found through a CAT scan and announced on March 6. And remember: The problem was first thought to be in the shoulder/pectorial muscle area.
Will MLB revise Domingo German’s suspension? He will serve the equivalent of 1.5 seasons. — Steve
The original suspension was for 81 games. He has served 18.
Post columnist Joel Sherman reported that according to the recent MLB/MLBPA agreement on domestic abuse suspensions, German will have to serve the remaining 63 games — but if there are no games this year, or there is a shortened season, it does not carry over to the 2021 season.
When play resumes, perhaps the season can be expanded through October and the playoffs and World Series can be played at neutral, warm-weather sites? — Peter O’Brien
All ideas have to be considered at this point, especially because nobody truly knows when or if the season will start.
Submit your Yankees questions to be answered in an upcoming mailbag
It is understood that this is not a normal situation, so the neutral-site idea is attractive. One drawback: Say the Yankees are in the World Series and play the Nationals at a neutral site. That would deprive fans of each team the chance to see a World Series game in their area. Yet if the World Series is played in November, logic dictates a neutral site in a warm-weather city or in a domed stadium.
What are the plans for Clarke Schmidt this upcoming season? Was very impressed with him during spring training. — @theyankeejungle
You weren’t the only one who was impressed. Multiple scouts who saw Schmidt in exhibition games came away believing he has surpassed Deivi Garcia as the Yankees’ top pitching prospect. Of course the Yankees won’t address that subject because they believe Garcia will eventually help them in the rotation or the bullpen.
Schmidt, 24, has a big curveball and enough of a fastball. The Yankees’ first-round pick in the 2017 draft has pitched in just 27 minor league games (25 starts) — he had Tommy John surgery shortly before being drafted — and only three of them were at Trenton (Double-A) last year.
It’s likely the right-hander will open the season at Trenton, and if he pitches well, eventually be moved to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Had the season opened on time, it might have been possible for Schmidt to reach the big leagues at some point. Now that depends on how many games are played.
Now that the majority of players have returned home, how will they be keeping in shape in this situation as opposed to their typical off-season plan? — @jockrocks14
With gyms closed, that will alter what players do during the winter, though many have some kind of equipment at their homes and enough room to at least throw. However, by no means will this time away from the game be the same as it is during the offseason. It will be interesting what kind of shape the players will be in when and if spring training resumes in front of an abbreviated schedule.
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