Yankees beat reporter Q&A: Aaron Judge, Joey Gallo, Derek Jeter, more

On Monday, Yankees Beat reporter Brendan Kuty hosted a Q&A session with members of Yankees Insider, an exclusive texting service from NJ Advance Media.

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Monday, a Yankees day off, covered Aaron Judge’s contract, the future of Joey Gallo, Derek Jeter, trades, the catch situation and more. We’re posting the transcript so potential subscribers can get a taste of the service.

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Why was Judge so confident that he turned down the Yankees’ pile of cash and bet on himself?

Kuty: I take what he said: he believes in his abilities and that everything will be fine.

Here’s one thing he didn’t say, however: According to the Baseball Reference, Judge has already earned over $20 million in baseball salary, and that doesn’t include the $17 million or $21 million he will receive in an arbitration this year. At this point, this is play money. Remember his endorsements. He’s already so rich. Not even a gamble at this point. But he wants to prove he deserves the money.

Will Gallo and Hicks stay with the team past the deadline?

Kuty: Good says yes to Hiccup, no to Gallo. Hicks will be due a lot more money – another $30 million over the next 3 years after this season. Gallo has the remainder of his $10.3 million salary. Hicks could serve as 4th OF. Another team might consider Gallo a buy-super-low reclamation project. You might think he just needs to get out of the BX, which isn’t crazy. No one trades for Hiccup, and the Yankees aren’t cutting that money. One could argue that Hicks’ wrist is still adjusting after the surgery. Teixeira also had the procedure and he said it would take a lot of time.

What trade is ahead?

Kuty: I think the Yankees will prioritize finding an outfielder who can score and then finding an assist. This outfield player will preferably also be able to play CF. I really don’t think the Yankees want judges in CF every day, mostly for health reasons. You can say you want Bryan Reynolds, but if offense falls off across MLB, his already high price will be bananas. Think smaller. I also think the Yankees feel they have enough pitching depth where they might not have to trade for assists. Domingo German is on his way back and will build up for the start and try to take some innings off guys in the rotation like Cortes and Taillon for a while. But he could collapse into the metropolitan area. Waldichuk/Wesneski could be options. Loaisiga/Chapman on the way back. I bet Jimmy Cordero will get a chance in the near future.

Will the Yankees try to sign Judge before their late June arbitration?

Kuty: I think they would speak to him immediately if he did. I was told he won’t do it. (Note: this is subject to change.) I’ve mentioned this to a few colleagues, but I’ll say it here as well. Remember how the Yankees leaked how much money the judge turned down? If the judge wanted to get petty, he could go public with all the cases the Yanks are bringing against him for an Arb salary for the 2022 season. It will be misleading as the sides cannot introduce stats for 2022. Most fans won’t know this. But it would be a powerful, if underhanded, PR move.

Will the Yankees name a starting catcher between HIggy/Trevino?

Kuty: I think they already have, to be honest. Here’s why: Trevino originally started Sunday afternoon’s game after playing on Saturday night. (He was removed due to a previous issue.) The Yankees rarely play day-game-after-night games with their catchers. Even with Sanchez holed up as a starter, he got one of those days off. But the Yankees wanted to go back-to-back with Trevino. That tells you everything you need to know. That said, the Yankees clubhouse loves Higgy, and he’s solid enough defensively. I don’t see any change here, apart from injuries.

What would Gallo need to do to stay and is he trainable?

Kuty: First, he would have to score better. Apparently. He would have to look something like the guy he was in Texas (116 OPS+) and not the guy he was with the Yankees (91 OPS+). Is he trainable? Secure. I only hear good things about Gallo as a person. team loves him. From personal experience, Joey comes across as a real good guy every time I talk to him. But is he trainable? I bet he is. But only up to a point. He has said that the low average/high performer/walk profile is him and it doesn’t change. But I’m wondering if Matt Carpenter can completely overhaul his swing, why can’t Gallo at least make some changes? Well he’s trying. I’m told he tries to be a little quieter at the plate, particularly with his hands, which might help with his timing. I’m not a batting coach, but it’s amazing how many balls Gallo can just swing through. I don’t know how to fix this.

What do you think of Carpenter and Donaldson?

Kuty: Must play Donaldson as much as possible. His racquet is still pretty impressive. It just hasn’t broken through yet, even though it happened in spurts. I actually think his racquet could carry the offense for a stretch. Defensively, Donaldson is miles – and I mean miles – ahead of Carpenter. Especially arm strength. I don’t see Carpenter Donaldson taking the bats away. On days when Donaldson is the DH, you might put Carpenter on 3B, but…then DJ might not be in the lineup, or Gleyber, or Stanton. I want to see if Carpenter can play some LF. That would be my focus.

Is Boone actually doing better or is the team that good?

Kuty: Both. How many Boone decisions have you contradicted outright and then seen them explode right in his face? Of course, the Americans – I think – give Gallo too long a leash, but there are two things to it: They win, so they can. And it’s not ALL his business. It’s a collaboration with the front office. I wouldn’t say Boone is any different from a manager. Remember: He’s had two 100-win teams before. How much influence did he have on this current W/L record? IDK man. Helps when the rotation is killer.

Jeter doesn’t have a job. Will he end up with the Yankees?

Kuty: crap no. He literally ran the baseball operations of an MLB team, the Marlins. That’s Brian Cashman’s job with the Yankees. I don’t see Jeter 1) taking Cashman’s job; 2) Working under Cashman. Jeter has too many Subway commercials to film.

The Yankees could re-sign Brett Gardner?

Kuty: I believe the ship has sailed. There would have been so much in there. The second you sign Gardner, it means the clock is ticking for someone on the active list. someone has to go What if it stinks? You would admit you were wrong by not re-signing him, and if he stinks, you were twice wrong in re-signing him. Also, the Yankees value the flexibility of the roster, and Gardner would have no minor league options. You can’t send him down. And you can’t just cut Brett Gardner, the eternal Yankee. At this point, it’s easier for them not to do it.

Why do you think the Yankees are so successful? Please classify the reasons.

Kuty: 1. Start Pitching: They were crazy. Almost the entire rotation has an ERA below 3.00. You get length from the appetizers. You are healthy.

2. Performance at home: The Yankees’ offense has just caught fire at home, and the balance in the lineup has been evident in how it affects things. Rizzo’s presence is huge. Carpenter’s has been lately, too.

3. Central defence: Significantly better than last year. Even Gleyber looked good at 2B. I think Donaldson is as good as Urshela at 3B, if not better. Rizzo is so good with the glove.

What will the Yankees do with Deutsch when he’s ready?

Kuty: German is set up like a starting pitcher. I guess that means – if everyone’s healthy – he’ll be the sixth pick. He could also be someone the Yankees favor for multiple starts at certain spots when watching the innings of Severino/Taillon/ and Cortes in particular. I need to have the boys healthy for the postseason. Deutsch could then always fall into a bullpen role.

Will IKF SS start in the playoffs? What’s up with Zack Britton? Hal Steinbrenner sees the light and doesn’t just throw money at problems.

Kuty: 1. yes If IKF is healthy, he will be the starting SS. Good SS are hard to find. Who is trading an SS better than IKF right now? And Oswald Peraza didn’t score at all in Triple-A.

2. Britton hosts bullpen sessions and still expects to pitch this season. 1) he wants to contribute. 2) It’s his running year.

3. Yes, for years Steinbrenner has preferred to spend less. He sees no need for a $200 million paycheck. Did it this year anyway.

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Brendan Kuty can be reached at bkuty@njadvancemedia.com.

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