Heyman: Yankees have no interest in retaining Nick Swisher

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According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Yankees will make free-agent-to-be Nick Swisher a qualifying offer this winter, but they have “no interest” in re-signing him to a multiyear deal.

The qualifying offer, which would be worth about $13.5 million for 2013, would secure the Yankees a draft pick if Swisher leaves as a free agent. Swisher could opt to accept the one-year deal, but since he’s likely to receive mulityear offers as a free agent, that’s a long shot.

Before a bust of an October in which he hit .167 in 30 at-bats, Swisher had another fine regular season for the Yankees this year, batting .272/.374/.473 with 24 homers and 93 RBI. He’s finished with OPSs between .820 and .870 in each of his four years with the Yankees.

With Swisher, Ichiro Suzuki, Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones all set for free agency, Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner are the only veteran Yankees outfielders under contract for next season. Granderson’s $13 million option is assured of being picked up. The Yankees could make an attempt to re-sign Ichiro and Ibanez, but it’s hard to imagine that they’d be content with that foursome of left-handers as their primary outfielders. They could pursue Cody Ross, Torii Hunter or maybe even ALCS MVP Delmon Young as a right-handed-hitting option. Hunter would seem to be a particularly nice fit, but he is expected to remain with the Angels.

Major League Baseball issues a statement on Trump’s latest travel ban order

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Last night the Trump Administration announced a new batch of restrictions on people traveling from foreign countries, following up on its previous travel ban on persons from six predominately Muslim countries. The latest restriction could potentially touch on Major League Baseball, however, as it includes Venezuela.

The restriction for Venezuela is far narrower than the others, only blocking visas for government officials on business or tourist travel from Venezuela. There has been considerable uncertainty about the scope and enforcement mechanisms for the previous travel ban, however, and the entire matter is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. With that uncertainty, many around Major League Baseball have asked how and if the league or the union might respond to an order that, while seemingly not facially impacting baseball personnel or their families, could impact them in practice.

To that end, Major League Baseball issued a statement this afternoon, saying “MLB is aware of the travel ban that involves Venezuela and we have contacted the appropriate government officials to confirm that it will not have an effect on our players traveling to the U.S.” It is not clear whether it has, in fact, received such confirmation or if its an ongoing dialog or what.

Again: the ban shouldn’t impact baseball players or their families based on its terms. But based on what we saw with the enforcement of the previous one — and based the unexpected consequences many major leaguers faced when international travel restrictions were tightened following the 9/11 attacks — it’s only prudent for Major League Baseball to make such inquiries and get whatever assurances it can well in advance of next February when players from Venezuela will be coming back to the United States for spring training.

 

Aaron Judge breaks rookie home run record with 49th, 50th blasts

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge made history today, hitting his 49th and 50th home runs, tying and then breaking the rookie record previously held by Mark McGwire of the Oakland Athletics.

Judge’s first dinger came in the third inning of this afternoon’s Royals-Yankees tilt. It was the sixth pitch from Jake Junis and left via right field. His second came in the bottom of the seventh against Trevor Cahill.

McGwire set his record in 1987, needing 151 games to do it. Judge hit his 50th in his 150th game of the season. He has five more games after today to add to that mark. Through his latest at bat in this game Judge is hitting .283/.417/.620 on the year with 50 HR, 108 RBI, 124 runs scored and 119 walks. Given Judge’s strong finish to the season, the AL MVP race should come down to a contest between him and Jose Altuve. It’s hard to argue against either one.

Here’s Judge’s first bomb:

And here’s the second: