Would impending free agent Joe Girardi leave the Yankees?

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Joe Girardi is getting a ton of praise for keeping the Yankees in the playoff picture despite an incredible number of injuries wrecking the roster all season, which is interesting timing with the manager’s contract up after the season.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com broaches the topic of whether Girardi would ever leave the Yankees as a free agent or, short of that, if he can at least leverage the situation into a big raise. Girardi is from Chicago, so the Cubs job might be appealing, and high-profile teams like the Nationals, Angels, and Phillies may all have openings. And he’s about to finish up a three-year, $9 million contract.

General manager Brian Cashman has made it clear he wants Girardi back and Girardi has dropped some hints suggesting he plans to be back, such as revealing how he’ll try to talk Mariano Rivera out of retiring to pitch another season for the Yankees. Girardi has a .583 winning percentage in six seasons managing the Yankees, which is the equivalent of a 94-68 record prorated to one 162-game season.

My guess is that he’ll be back in New York, but for a lot more than $3 million per season.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.