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Domingo German’s return from a domestic violence suspension created drama in the Yankees clubhouse.
Before German commented publicly to the media, or even his teammates for that matter, one of the Yankees most prominent voices spoke out at a press conference and via his public social media platform, suggesting the 28-year-old wouldn’t be welcomed back to the Bronx with open arms.
Zach Britton, a key Yankees holdover from the German event in question, stated that Yankees players “don’t get to control” who their teammates are. Britton also responded defensively to a fan who questioned his intensions with his comment to the media. It’s important to note that Britton is viewed as a team leader, even serving as the Yankees MLBPA representative.
But to fully understand the difficult situation the Yankees front office finds themselves in, we need the fully story. Per The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler, German became violent towards his then-girlfriend after C.C. Sabathia’s charity gala — a team-sponsored event which many notable Yankees attended. German was intoxicated, and had to be restrained by one of his own teammates after the victim contacted the wife of said player. While no police report was filed, the incident was reported to MLB by a member of the Yankees’ staff.
So it’s tough to blame Britton — or any Yankee for that matter — for feeling betrayed or disgusted by such an incident. German’s suspension wasn’t based on hearsay or even a reported crime. It directly involved the team, and that’s why any potential return, second chance, or whatever the Yankees plan on branding German’s comeback isn’t as simple to accept for this group. No blanket apology with the Yankees’ seal of approval can fix this, nor should it.
How are the Yankees — and their fans — supposed to feel about Domingo German?
While the Yankees are in a tough spot, their fans are perhaps even more morally torn. So, how should they approach this delicate situation? To find out, we ask two who would know.
Adam Weinrib and Thomas Carranante are both site experts for Yanks Go Yard on the FanSided Network. Both were kind enough to take a few questions on German, and the Yankees approach heading into spring training.
1. German’s return has already caused some locker room tension. Is this something the Yankees can afford heading into another pivotal season?
Absolutely not. The Yankees have enough controversy on their hands with high-profile injuries and a shaky starting rotation. Many fans, including myself, have advocated for his release, because he’s just no longer worth the time. He hasn’t pitched in what will be 19 months and he’s done nothing to amend his current situation that stemmed from his domestic violence case. He spent three minutes reading from a piece of paper in his “apology” when speaking to the media last week and that was the first time we heard anything from him in nearly a year and a half. He also didn’t address any of his teammates about it until this week. Let’s throw in some troubling behavior on social media, and this is exactly what the Yankees don’t need. -TC
2. Why is German’s return so important to the organization? From the outside looking in, couldn’t his production be easily replaced?
The Yankees know that the only way 2021 will be a bust is if they don’t have a deep, effective rotation. Aside from the boom-or-bust lineup going quiet at times in the postseason, the cast of starters has been the main factor holding them back in each of the past four postseasons. Admittedly, German’s 2019 saved his bacon. He went 18-4 with a 4.03 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with 153 strikeouts in his first full season as a starter (27 games, 143 innings pitched). If he can do that again and he’s the No. 5 starter, then the Yankees will have the rotation they’ve been dreaming of for quite some time.
And yes, you have to factor in the “contract” situation here. He’s under club control through 2025 and costs nothing. The Yankees spent all offseason making sure we knew about their lost profits and the fact that they were hell-bent on remaining under the luxury tax threshold, which is why they also settled for Corey Kluber on a one-year deal and traded for Jameson Taillon, who will make $2.25 million. The problem with Deivi Garcia is that the Yankees are going to take their time with him because of his limited MLB exposure coupled with last year’s unfavorable circumstances for pitchers. So, yeah, the fancy answer is that all of these topics of conversation come into play, but the Yankees are prioritizing pitching depth over his troubling off-the-field behavior. As human beings, we can only hope German improves and makes amends for his wrongdoings. -TC
3. Zach Britton’s comment rings true for fans as well. The Yankees now have two alleged domestic abusers on their team in German and Aroldis Chapman. Is there any solution for fans who feel uncomfortable with that reality?
In truth, there’s no perfect solution here for fans. It’s typical to feel singled out and want to get combative when questions of fandom and unsavory rostered players arise. But at the same time, the Yankees are literally to blame here. They chose to buy Chapman at his lowest value by taking advantage of his allegations, and they built their offseason plan around an overload of depth in the rotation rather than a few key workhorses.
Essentially, if German was going to go, he’d already be gone. All that being said, this is a systemic issue rather than one fan base’s issue, and fans shouldn’t have to feel pressure to answer for the allegations their favorite team’s players are facing…but the Yankees should be very much ashamed for attempting to Moneyball serious allegations into the latest market inefficiency. My fandom experience would be better without both men. -AW
4. As a Yankee fan, what’s the best-case scenario here? Put yourself in Brian Cashman’s shoes.
Quite simply, German isn’t going anywhere — until Cashman can potentially parlay him into at least one asset. It seems the Yankees cratered the market here by holding onto the asset for his entire year away from the game. If he’s really as talented as they claim he is, then surely someone else will want him, right? As I’ve stated, this is a Major League Baseball problem, and one of the other teams would surely love a shot at scooping up a troubled asset for free. Mickey Callaway still has a job, and I’m fairly confident German contributes more on a daily basis. Following Clarke Schmidt’s injury, the Yankees have one fewer piece of ready-made rotation depth at Triple-A. It’s just German, Deivi Garcia and Michael King competing for the fifth-starter job, so it’s harder for the team to justify jettisoning him. For better, or likely worse, he’s going to open 2021 on this team. -AW
German will get his chance in the Yankees rotation, but at what cost?
First Pitch is a weekly FanSided.com MLB feature in coordination with the FanSided network.