Aaron Judge Named Unanimous AL Rookie of the Year

Fifty-two home runs. 127 walks. Home Run Derby champion. No rookie had ever done that until Aaron Judge took Major League Baseball by force.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America named Judge the unanimous winner of the 2017 AL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year award today in New York. The 25-year-old beat out Red Sox OF Andrew Benintendi and Orioles 1B/OF Trey Mancini for the title.

“It means everything. It’s quite an honor,” Judge said. “It’s an honor and a privilege. I’m just one piece in an organization. The impact my teammates, family and friends have had on me this year have been huge. I can’t thank them enough.”

Judge also won a Silver Slugger for his offensive output, and was a finalist for a Gold Glove in right field. He is a finalist for the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award alongside Astros 2B José Altuve and Indians INF José Ramírez.

Before breaking out in 2017, Judge struggled in a late-season audition for a starting outfield job in 2016. He struck out in 44.2 percent of his plate appearances, and finished the season on the disabled list with a grade 2 right oblique strain. He came into camp as the team’s No. 4 prospect, and in a competition with Aaron Hicks for the starting job in right field.

Judge won the job, and the rest is history. He slashed .284/.422/.627, and led the American League with the aforementioned 52 home runs. Despite leading all of the MLB with 208 strikeouts, Judge managed to lead the AL in walks with 127. His 10.4 AB/HR led the AL.

The last Yankee to win the Rookie of the Year award was Derek Jeter in 1996.

Report: Aaron Boone & Hensley Meulens Will Be Next to Interview for Yankees Opening

A pair of ex-Yankees will be the next to interview for the managerial opening in the Bronx, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Aaron Boone and Hensley Meulens will be the next in line to talk with Brian Cashman.

Boone’s name came up last week when ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted that there was a mutual interest in the job. Meulens, a Yankee player from 1989 to 1993, served on Bruce Bochy’s coaching staff in San Francisco during their even-year dominance to start the decade.

Cashman said Sunday that interviews will be put on hold because he will be attending the General Managers meetings in Orlando, Florida. He said they will begin again Thursday. He did not confirm that Boone or Meulens would be interviewed at that time.

Boone has no formal coaching experience, but has been working full-time with ESPN’s coverage of Major League Baseball since announcing his retirement in 2010. He comes from impressive baseball lineage, however, as his father (Bob) and grandfather (Ray) each played in the MLB.

Meulens ended his Yankee tenure with a .221/.290/.344 line with 12 home runs in 159 games. His professional career came to a close in 2002 with the Pericos de Puebla of the Triple-A Mexican League. Like current Yankee shortstop Didi Gregorius, Meulens speaks five languages (English, Spanish, Dutch, Papiamento and Japanese), and was knighted in 2012 by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters Announce They Will Post Shohei Ohtani

Another huge hurdle in the way of Shohei Ohtani coming to Major League Baseball has been cleared, as his Japanese team announced they will post the two-way star this offseason.

The Yankees are deeply interested in the 23-year-old, who played in just 65 games this season because of an ankle injury. He still managed a .332/.403/.540 slash-line with eight home runs and 31 RBIs. He pitched to a 3-2 record, with a 3.20 ERA and a 10.3 K/9 rate. He had some command issues, which explains his inflated 6.8 BB/9 rate.

Ohtani came onto the global radar as a top amateur talent after his breakout season in 2016. In his age-22 season, he hit .322/.416/.588 with 22 home runs and 67 RBIs as an outfielder and designated hitter for the Fighters. In 21 games pitching (20 starts), he went 10-4 with an incredible 1.86 ERA, 11.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. He won the Best Nine award as a pitcher and designated hitter, and was named Pacific League MVP in 2016.

Because of his age, Ohtani will have to be signed as an amateur player. He will sign a minor league contract with six years of control, and is limited to receiving a signing bonus under the pool program. The Yankees can offer Ohtani a $3.25 million bonus, a figure topped only by the Texas Rangers. The MLB and NPB must reach a new posting agreement before Ohtani becomes an MLB free agent.

Aaron Boone Interested in Managing Yankees

The contest to manage the Yankees for 2018 and beyond seems wide open, with reports Thursday indicating that former Yankee 3B Aaron Boone is a candidate for the job.

As ESPN’s Buster Olney mentioned above, Boone gained a new middle name in Boston after his walk-off home run against the Red Sox sent the Yankees to the 2003 World Series. Boone has been working as a game analyst and commentator with ESPN’s MLB coverage since his retirement in 2009.

Boone’s tenure with the Yankees was very short, but quite meaningful. They acquired him at the 2003 Trade Deadline, sending Brandon ClaussenCharlie Manning and cash to the Cincinnati Reds. He slashed .254/.302/.418 with six home runs and 31 RBIs in 54 regular season games, though fans will never forget ALCS Game 7.

As the story goes, Boone then tore a knee ligament during a pick-up basketball game after the season. The basketball game violated his contract, and the team released him. That opened up the path to the Yankees trading 2B Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named later (INF Joaquín Árias) to the Texas Rangers for Alex Rodriguez.

Though he has no coaching experience, Boone has been around the game for ages. His father is Bob Boone, who played from 1972 to 1990 and managed in spurts from 1995 to 2003. His brother, Brett, played from 1992 to 2005 and was a three-time All-Star.

Boone has yet to interview with the team.

John Flaherty Expresses Interest in Managing Yankees

Another former Yankee backstop looks to make the move from YES Network to the manager’s office in the Bronx, as John Flaherty told reporters that his agent reached out to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman with interest in the job.

Flaherty backed up Jorge Posada from 2003 to 2005, with his main role being Randy Johnson‘s personal catcher. He hit .226/.261/.387 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs in 134 games in pinstripes.

Since retiring during Spring Training in 2006, Flaherty has served as a color analyst during Yankees games and also doing analysis in the studio during pre- and post-game shows. He has no formal coaching experience since he began working in broadcasting immediately after his retirement.

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If Flaherty were to be hired, he would follow the same blueprint as former Yankee manager Joe Girardi. Girardi retired in 2004 and broadcasted for two years before becoming the manager of the Florida Marlins for one season. Girardi won NL Manager of the Year that season, but was fired by then-owner Jeffery Loria because Loria is simply incompetent.

Report: Yankees Can Pay 2nd Highest Bonus to Shohei Ohtani

Get ready for a lot of coverage of Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani as free agency starts to heat up. A report from the Associated Press indicates that the Yankees have the second highest bonus pool available to give Ohtani.

Their amount, $3.25 million, comes just $285,000 short of the $3,535,000 that the Texas Rangers could give to arguably this offseason’s most intriguing free agent. The MLB, MLBPA and NPB still must negotiate a new posting system so that Ohtani (a player still under rights to a Japanese team) can be made available to teams in America.

It’s intriguing that the top two teams with bonus money are also teams that recently signed Japanese pitchers. The Rangers paid $51.7 million to the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in the 2011 offseason just to negotiate with Yu Darvish, who then signed to a 6-year, $60 million deal with the team prior to 2012. Darvish remained in Texas until the trade deadline in 2017, when he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for prospects Willie Calhoun, A.J. Alexy and Brendon Davis. He is now a free agent.

The Yankees made a big splash after the 2013 season by signing Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka, a star with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, signed a seven-year contract worth $155 million after the Yankees paid a $20 million negotiation fee. The negotiating fee was much smaller, and his contract much larger, because of the revised posting system that did away with bidding for exclusive negotiating rights. Tanaka had the opportunity to opt out of his contract after the 2017 season, but decided to stay in the Bronx for three more years at $67 million.

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By hiring CAA, an MLBPA-approved agency, to represent him in the United States, it appears as though Ohtani is serious about his move across the Pacific. Joel Sherman of the New York Post also reported that MLB and NPB agreed to grandfather the old posting system for one more year. That would mean the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters would get $20 million from the team that signs Ohtani, rather than 15-20 percent like a new rumored agreement dictated. The MLBPA would have to approve this arrangement, though Sherman notes the union had not been notified as of this afternoon.

Since no team can pay Ohtani more than what their bonus pool allows, this free agency simply comes down to recruiting. There are bound to be more interesting developments as the process drags on. It makes sense, given that Ohtani slashed .332/.403/.540 with 8 homers and 31 RBIs in 65 games as a hitter this season. Oh, yeah, he also has a career 2.52 ERA and 10.9 K/9 rate as a starter in the NPB, too. A potential two-way star signing as an amateur player is bound to draw attention, and rightfully so.

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Rob Thomson Interviews for Yankees Manager Job

Multiple sources reported this morning that Yankees bench coach Rob Thomson interviewed with the club for the managerial opening.

The fact that Thomson is being interviewed is absolutely no surprise. He has been in the Yankees organization for the past 28 years, most recently serving as Joe Girardi‘s bench coach. He served as the team’s third base coach from 2009 to 2014.

He also has front office experience, working as field coordinator, director of player development and vice president of minor league development. He also interviewed for the Toronto Blue Jays managerial opening in 2012, before opting to remain with the Yankees.

Thomson filled in as Yankees manager for the May 19 matchup against the Tampa Bay Rays as Girardi briefly left the team to attend his daughter’s graduation ceremony. The Yankees lost that matchup, 5-to-4, on an RBI single by Evan Longoria off of Tyler Clippard.

None of the candidates for the managerial job in the Bronx will be secrets. Brian Cashman told reporters on a conference call earlier in the week that all candidates will speak to the media as part of the process.