Yankees mailbag: Aaron Judge’s injury and how it affects mega-contract
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.
If baseball comes back this year, why wouldn’t the Yankees shut Aaron Judge down for 2020 and get him ready for the 2021 season? How many games will MLB play this year? They would be taking a chance with him at 60 to 80 percent and maybe not having him for a full 2021. — Bruce J Morelli, Sr.
Should MLB have a season and if Aaron Judge is healthy, the Yankees are going to play him because the games obviously will count and he is a big part of the lineup.
Big league teams don’t sit a healthy player while looking toward the next season. As for how many games will be played, nobody knows. As for taking a chance and possibly not having Judge for the 2021 season, all players get hurt and that isn’t likely on the Yankees’ radar if Judge is healthy enough to play, no matter how many games are held this year.
What was the reason for Bucky Dent to switch bats right before the home run (against the Red Sox in the 1978 playoff game)? He didn’t look like he broke his bat on the pitch. — Michael Caruso
“I was using Mickey [Rivers]’s bat in BP. I asked to try his bat. I was scuffling. I cracked a hairline crack, so when I fouled the ball off he said, ‘You are using the wrong bat.’ So he gave me the good one.’’ Dent said.
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Do you think the Yankees will make a strong effort to re-sign Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and DJ LeMahieu when they become free agents after the 2020 season? — Frank Grampone
With the current situation it is very difficult to read the Yankees’ minds about who they will sign among the entire free-agent field, not just the players you asked about. There are too many variables in play at this point. If there is a season, there will be less data taken from performances than usual. Do the players want to stay? Will injuries play a role? As for my personal opinion, I would make LeMahieu the top priority, with Tanaka next and Paxton third.
Are the Yankees going to make a serious attempt to extend LeMahieu’s contract before the season starts? — Al Sibello
A similar question was asked last week concerning Gleyber Torres being extended. In the spring of 2019, the Yankees extended Aaron Hicks with a seven-year deal worth $70 million and Luis Severino for four years and $40 million. That was an indication the Yankees are willing to listen. LeMahieu, who will turn 31 in July, was a bargain when he signed a two-year deal for $24 million prior to the 2019 season. His price will increase, even if there is no 2020 season. The Yankees like having him and he enjoys playing in The Bronx, but first let’s see if there is a season to judge him on the field.
Who do you think will be in the starting rotation for the Yankees with Domingo German suspended and Luis Severino out for the season with Tommy John surgery? — Chris Fiegler
In order it would be Gerrit Cole, Tanaka, J.A. Happ, Jordan Montgomery and likely Jonathan Loaisiga or Luis Cessa, if Paxton isn’t ready should the season start.
With Judge’s injury history, is it wise for the Yankees to eventually give him a long-term, big-money contract? — Lorenzo Gonzalez
Judge is a top-10 talent in the game who will be eligible for arbitration following the next two seasons. The injury factor aside, if I were the Yankees, I would make an effort to see what he is looking for in terms of years and dollars for a deal that would buy out his arbitration years and some of his free-agent seasons. His injuries, however, might cloud the Yankees’ plans.
With all the minor league talent and Yankees resources, why haven’t the Yankees traded for Francisco Lindor? — Leon Cisek
Lindor is a terrific talent who will be a free agent following the 2021 season and plays a premium position, so start with the Indians asking a lot for the 26-year-old shortstop. While the Yankees have talent in the system, their two best pitching prospects are Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia, and the Indians would likely be looking for major league ready arms and position players to deal Lindor. I assume when you say “Yankees resources’’ you are talking money. Remember, they gave Gerrit Cole $324 million this past offseason. And they firmly believe that Gleyber Torres, 23, can play shortstop and hit very well for a lot less money than Lindor will command when he becomes a free agent.
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