Yankees’ rookie manager Aaron Boone discussed the upcoming 2018 season with WFAN Radio guest host John Sterling on Wednesday morning. Here are some highlights from the interview, which can be accessed below.
So, about the lineup…
Like all fans, Boone has spent the holiday season pondering about potential lineups with sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton at his disposal. The Yankees made a blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins for the reigning National League MVP two weeks ago at baseball’s winter meetings in Florida.
“I’ve been flirting around with [lineups] at this point, just having a little fun with that,” Boone told Sterling. “Obviously, a lot of great options. But that’s something we’ll work out through spring training and depending on our matchups, we’ve got a lot of moving parts and a lot of great options that we’re going to have. And good decisions to have to make when it comes to putting together that lineup.”
Considering that both Judge and Stanton combined for 111 home runs this past season (Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris hit 115 back in 1961), the majority of fans hope to see the outfield duo hit back-to-back next spring. Boone isn’t opposed to that arrangement, but he’s also open to other ideas.
“We’re hoping to see Greg Bird take another giant leap this year and be one of those guys that really makes a pitcher work,” he said. “We saw what Didi [Gregorius] did last year. Obviously, Gary Sanchez. So, when an opposing pitcher looks at our lineup and thinks about having to work through it, it’s a team that you better make pitches against. Otherwise, this is a team that not only can make you pay with a base hit, but it’ll make you pay with some damage.”
Can’t have enough pitching at the right price
On Monday, the Yankees officially announced their one-year, $10 million deal with veteran southpaw CC Sabathia, which means the entire 2017 starting rotation (Sabathia, Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka, and Jordan Montgomery) will be back next season. However, the latest hot stove rumors have listed the Yankees as potential suitors for starters like the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole and the Diamonbacks’ Patrick Corbin, to name a few.
Although the saying is old and clichéd, a team can never have enough pitching. But Boone says the Yankees’ front office isn’t inclined to overspend for an additional arm this winter.
“I think it just depends on [getting the right] matchup and if it’s something that’ll ultimately make sense for us as an organization not only in the short term, but also in the long term,” Boone said. “I know it’s something [general manager Brian Cashman] is actively looking into — pursuing, kicking tires, having conversations with other teams. We don’t feel like we’re in a situation where we’re desperate to go out and have to get something, but it’s definitely something we would like to add.”
Who will fill in those infield voids?
New York’s ultimate goal is to win another World Series title — which, they are now favored to do in 2018 — but over the last few seasons, the Yankees have stressed the importance of getting under the $197 million luxury tax threshold before next winter’s loaded free agent class arrives. In an effort to shed more payroll, the club recently dealt second baseman Starlin Castro to Miami and third baseman Chase Headley to San Diego.
At the moment, it’s unclear who will take over those two infield positions next spring. According to Boone, the Yankees may look to their top-ranked prospects or explore the market for temporary solutions.
“Ronald Torreyes showed us last year how valuable he is as that utility infielder, so there is certainly confidence that he can play a number of positions if we need him to,” Boone said. “There’s a number of guys knocking on the door at the big league level that we feel will be big league players that can fill in there. Obviously, Gleyber Torres is going to factor in at some point at one of those positions. [Miguel] Andujar is on the come, so we have a lot of guys that are knocking on that door.”