Yankees: Interview with MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 04: Miguel Andujar #41 of the New York Yankees congratulates teammate Gleyber Torres #25 after Torres hit a three run home run in the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium on May 4, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 04: Miguel Andujar #41 of the New York Yankees congratulates teammate Gleyber Torres #25 after Torres hit a three run home run in the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium on May 4, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Prior to Tuesday night’s highly anticipated series opener between the Yankees and Red Sox, I had the opportunity to interview MLB.com Executive Reporter Mark Feinsand.

Feinsand went over numerous Yankees topics including upcoming roster moves, trade deadline targets and the hot start of top prospect Gleyber Torres.

DR: Despite a relatively slow start on the pitching end of things, the Yankees’ starting staff has really turned it around over their 15-1 stretch, posting an ERA of 2.06 during that time. With that said, is it still a given that a top-flight starter will be acquired at the deadline? If so, who?

MF: I wouldn’t say it’s a given, though the smart money would probably be on the Yankees dealing for a starter. With Montgomery on the DL for a while, German still an unknown and Sabathia pitching at such a high level – one you can’t reasonably predict he’ll maintain at his age — Brian Cashman will likely make a deal if one is there to be made. That’s not to say it will be a big-name guy, though.

If Severino, Tanaka, Gray, Sabathia and German/Montgomery are all pitching well in July, the Yankees could make a deal for a veteran guy as depth/protection, especially since German/Montgomery can always be sent down if necessary. If one or more of them is pitching poorly or is injured between now and then, I could see the Yankees going out and getting a big arm. As for who that might be, it’s way too early to say.

We don’t know which teams will be in or out of postseason races by mid-to-late July, and when you look at the teams that are off to terrible starts, how many of them even have top-flight starters you would want? I could see the Yankees also giving Sheffield a chance to start for them if he pitches well at Triple-A, hoping he could be the equivalent of what Severino was in 2015.

DR: Gleyber Torres has outperformed just about all expectations fans could have had at this point. Stellar defense. Solid and timely hitting. Are you any bit surprised by how well the 21-year-old is performing through his first couple weeks in the big leagues?

MF: No, I’m not surprised. Virtually every scout I spoke to about Torres last year had him as a can’t-miss prospect. He’s a great young player with all the upside in the world. The fact that he came in without needing to be the savior is very helpful because it takes some of the pressure off his shoulders.

The Cubs didn’t want to deal him two summers ago, and even though it worked out for them as Chapman helped pitch them to a World Series title, the deal was painful for the Cubs to make. He’ll go through some struggles at some point because every rookie does, but I think he’s here to stay and will be a big-time player for the Yankees going forward.

DR: Brandon Drury is likely set to come off the 10-day DL sooner rather than later, and Greg Bird lurks not too far behind. Barring another injury, this is going to create quite the logjam for the Yankees 25-man roster. Who goes? Who stays?

MF: The first one is easy: I’d assume either David Hale or A.J. Cole are sent out when Drury returns, leaving the Yankees with a 12-man pitching staff. As for Bird, it’s hard to say. So much can happen between now and then (more injuries, for example), but if the roster looks exactly as it does today, my guess would be Tyler Austin gets sent down.

The Yankees seem to like having Neil Walker there as protection (plus he’s owed more than $3 million), and since Austin can be optioned, there’s no risk there. If Bird comes back and plays every day, there’s not much playing time available for Austin. I’d assume they would prefer he get regular at-bats at Triple-A to keep him sharp in case they need him again.

DR: Didi Gregorius has gotten off to a tremendous start, to say the least, slashing .311/.399/.664 while hitting ten home runs, leading all shortstops in the category to this point. He’s set to hit free agency following the 2019 season. Any chance the Yankees go against their history and offer Didi an extension?

MF: I think there’s a good chance the two sides talk about a new deal next offseason. Not to compare him to Jeter, but they did the same with him in 2000, a year before he would have been a free agent. Remember, they did this a few times in the past with Jeter, Posada, and Rivera, so it wouldn’t be a completely foreign concept.

The era of waiting for other teams’ free agents to hit the market is over, so if the Yankees know they want to keep Didi in pinstripes for a long time, an extension makes perfect sense. I’d say it’s better than 50-50 that they come a long-term deal next winter, but that’s just a guess on my part, not based on any information I’ve gotten from anybody.

DR: As of Tuesday, the Red Sox and Yankees sit atop the American League with the two top records in baseball at 25-9 and 24-10, respectively. Is it now reasonable to assume these two powerhouses are once again the best teams in the sport?

MF: At the moment, yes. But the Astros are right there with both of them, and if someone wanted to say Houston was the best team in the game, I couldn’t really argue with them. The Yankees, Red Sox and Astros have separated themselves for me, while the Angels and D-backs are showing great potential. I also don’t sleep on the Nationals or Cubs, who, when healthy, have just as much talent as anybody.

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DR: Lastly, going back to the starting rotation question. The San Francisco Giants currently sit 3rd in the NL West at 19-16, while Madison Bumgarner awaits on the DL. Now, in a situation where the Giants are out of contention come July, could MadBum hit the trade market to haul in prospects for an aging Giants team? Possibly a target for the Yankees?

MF: I don’t see it. The Giants have a $12 million option for 2019, so if he is to get dealt, I don’t think it would be before this winter at the earliest (and more likely next summer). The Giants aren’t actually as old as you think. Longoria is 32, McCutchen, Posey, and Crawford are in their age-31 seasons, Belt is 30 and Panik is 27. None of their starting pitchers are older than 33, Bumgarner will be 29 in August, so he’s a part of their future.

Next: Yankees: Greg Bird nearing his return

Despite the 98-loss season in 2017, I think this team can contend for a playoff spot this year, so I don’t anticipate any type of fire sale. It’s not really how Brian Sabean tends to operate.