Weekly Mailbag: Domingo German
Domingo German – Photo Courtesy of James Franklin II, Associated Press
It’s been a couple of months since we had a mailbag. Without baseball and given the state of current affairs, I know there’s a lot less baseball on people’s minds. However, as questions come into the mailbag, albeit much more slowly than normal, I have tried to answer them either by weaving the question into another post or by devoting the Friday mailbag space to any questions that come in. This week, Lionel wrote in with a good question that deserves its own post. As always, please reach out to SSTNReadermail@gmail.com. and I’ll answer each Friday in the Weekly Mailbag.
This week, Lionel asks: “How did the Yankees acquire German and what do you think his future with the team will be?”
It may seem like a lifetime ago to Yankee fans, but Domingo German was acquired in the following transaction during the 2015-2016 offseason:
Nathan Eovaldi, P
Garrett Jones, OF/1B/DH
Domingo German, P (minors)
Martin Prado, Utility
David Phelps, P
Obviously, hindsight is 20/20, and it’s clear that the Yankees fleeced the Marlins in this deal. However, most baseball observers thought that this deal was a steal for the Yankees even at the time of the trade. I mention the fact that the trade was clearly lopsided because of Domingo German’s inclusion. German was a fringe Top-100 prospect according to most prospect outlets, and just trading Jones and Eovaldi alone was too much for Prado and Phelps on talent alone. However, this is the Marlins we are talking about and their focus has always been on one thing: cutting costs. The Marlins were undertaking one of their classic slash and burn offseason maneuvers, and they needed to find a taker for Jones’ contract. As the story goes, the Yankees insisted on getting German in the deal if they were going to take Jones. The Marlins acquiesced, and a lopsided trade got even worse for the Marlins.
German never really became a Top-5 prospect in the Yankee system due to injuries. When healthy, he impressed with great stuff, but he never really built up the innings count in the high minors necessary to consider him a rotation option until last season.
By now, everyone knows what German’s situation is: German shined in his first season in the Yankee rotation, providing stability at a time that the Yankees were decimated by injuries. Just prior to the playoff run, German was placed on leave by Major League Baseball following a suspected incident of domestic violence. German has since been suspended for 81 games by Major League Baseball, and will serve the remainder of that suspension (63 games) whenever baseball returns.
First of all, domestic violence is a terrible, despicable crime. Very few professional sports leagues are competent at handling incidents of domestic violence, and baseball has certainly had it’s screw-ups in this department, but they have probably been the most proactive about handling incidents as they occur when compared to other North American sports. While German was not charged with a crime by the city of New York, often times that is more a question of whether or not the victim is willing to press charges, so I’m not really going to comment on that aspect of the equation. German and the Yankees accepted MLB’s suspension without any public fuss, so German will serve his suspension, and will be a Yankee when it’s over.
The Yankees have shown by previous actions that they are willing to allow players who have served MLB suspensions for domestic violence to return to play, as they did by doubling down on first trading for Aroldis Chapman and later re-signing him on the Free Agent market. All of this is to say that Domingo German will certainly wear pinstripes again.
German’s role will be fascinating to see. In light of the prospect series that we have been running here at SSTN, it is important to note that Domingo German is basically the 90th percentile outcome for prospects with a good fastball, wicked stuff, and questions about a third pitch and command. The Yankees’ handling of German between this year and next may give us some insight into how the Yankees will handle similar pitchers in the future.
Frankly, the Yankees have a lot of question marks behind Gerrit Cole after this season. Sevy won’t return from Tommy John until sometime next year; Tanaka is a Free Agent after the season; Monty, as good as he looked in Spring Training, is coming off of Tommy John and will need to spend the next two seasons re-building his inning count; JA Happ will not likely be around next season; and the Yankees have a host of starting pitchers in the high minors who are really lottery tickets at this point. Given that fact, I think it is entirely likely that German will return to a spot in the starting rotation.
Like many pitchers in the Yankee system though, German’s stuff would likely play up in shorter, 2-4 inning bursts. It would not surprise me if the Yankees decided to get experimental over the next couple of years, and experiment more with long relievers or openers who tag-team with certain starters. In any case, I think that German will have an important role to play with the team once his suspension ends.