Report: Yankees reach deal to get Joey Gallo from Rangers

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
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All-Star slugger Joey Gallo is headed to the Bronx to give the New York Yankees some much-needed punch from the left side.

The Yankees have reached a deal to get Gallo from the Texas Rangers, a person familiar with the trade told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the move had not yet been announced and was subject to approval of medical records of the players involved.

“Wow, a guy that can hit it out of any ball park. I don’t think he gets enough credit for the type of defense that he plays,” Aaron Judge said after the Yankees won 3-1 in 10 innings at Tampa Bay.

“Also, just talking with Rougy and a couple guys that have played with him, man, what a guy that you want in you clubhouse, a guy that shows up everyday ready to play. He’s going to fight until the very end. If that’s true and it comes true that we get him, I think it’s going to be something special for our team,” he said.

Gallo, 27, should provide a powerful boost for the heavily right-handed Yankees. With switch-hitting center fielder Aaron Hicks hurt, second baseman Rougned Odor and outfielder Brett Gardner have been the only left-handed hitters to see substantial playing time.

“That’s going to be huge, just to give the pitchers a different look,” Judge said. “When we go up there with all right-handed guys, pitchers kind kind of get into grooves and kind of get into rhythms, but if you kind of mix it up a little bit and throw some lefties in there and a lefty that kind of bolt you on any pitch, it’s going to be big for this lineup and for this team.”

Gallo is hitting .223 with 25 homers, 55 RBIs and a major league-leading 74 walks. The 6-foot-5 slugger has also been a Gold Glove right fielder for Texas, but presumably would play left for the Yankees, who have Judge as their regular right fielder.

“He’s a great player and I have heard nothing but good things about him, so if it happens, I’ll be really excited,” infielder DJ LeMahieu said. “If do we get a guy like that, like wow, that would be a pretty good guy to add to the lineup.”

Yankees reliever Chad Green said players first heard about the trade from a fan sitting behind the dugout during the game at Tropicana Field.

Gallo had repeatedly expressed his desire to stay with the rebuilding Rangers, who took him with the 39th overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft. But he was scratched from the starting lineup only moments before the start of Wednesday night’s home game against Arizona, with the team saying the move was for non-medical reasons.

Judge also was scratched from the starting lineup Wednesday night, a day after returning from the COVID-19 injured list. Judge said blood work and other tests related to coming off the IL ran late, and and that some initially had been a little off and needed double checking. He struck out as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning against Tampa Bay and hit a tiebreaking single in the 10th.

“Better late than never,” Judge said. “I’m feeling great, but there are so many different tests, so many different hops you have to come through to come back.”

He said the worst symptoms were a headache and sniffles, similar to an allergy. Asked whether he had been vaccinated, Judge responded: “I’m not going to get into that. … That’s something I’d like to keep with – talk with my doctor about.”

He is not sure how he contracted COVID-19 and had tried to figure out whether he got it during the All-Star break in Denver.

Gallo is owed $2.2 million from his $6.2 million salary. He is eligible for arbitration next winter and can became a free agent after the 2022 season.

The two-time All-Star is a career .211 hitter in seven seasons, but launches a lot of longballs. He hit 41 home runs in 2017 and 40 in 2018.

In his final game with the Rangers on Tuesday night, Gallo hit his first home run since the All-Star break, a towering three-run shot to put Texas ahead on the way to a 5-4 victory over the Diamondbacks to end a 12-game losing streak. Gallo also had two more assists from right field, giving him a career-high nine this season.

Gallo gave what became a prophetic goodbye to Rangers fans when he started thanking them in a postgame interview Tuesday night on the team’s television broadcast. He told reporters after that he didn’t want to miss an opportunity to thank everyone.

“We don’t know the future and I don’t want to like miss an opportunity to tell everybody I appreciate it,” Gallo said. “I’ve been 10 years here. I remember last year when I almost got traded, there was like a lot that I was thinking, `Man, I wish I would have done this, I wish I would have said something.’ … I want the fans to know that I appreciate everything they’ve done for me and supporting me, and buying my jerseys and whatnot. You know, I really appreciate it.”

Gallo has more outfield assists (four) than hits (three) since participating in the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby two weeks ago. He is just 3 for 34 in those 11 games, and his homer for a 5-2 lead against the Diamondbacks snapped an 0-for-16 slide.

Over his last 12 games before the break, Gallo had 11 homers and was the first Rangers player to go deep 10 times in a span of 10 games. He had homers of 462 and 450 feet in the same game.

The Yankees are 8 1/2 games behind first-place Boston in the AL East and trailing Tampa Bay, Oakland and Seattle in the race for two wild cards.

The last-place Rangers are on pace for their first 100-loss season since 1973, the franchise’s second season in Texas. Their last winning season was 2016, when they won the AL West before getting swept by Toronto in a best-of-five Division Series.

“He has a good track record and he’s respected throughout the whole league,” Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes Jr. said. “It’s going to be a good addition for us.”

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.