Yankees’ Cashman plans to push ahead on Aaron Judge talks

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK — Brian Cashman is working on a handshake agreement following his contract’s expiration and will push ahead with talks aimed at re-signing Aaron Judge.

“We’d love to be able to bring Aaron Judge back and have him being able to maintain being a member of this franchise and the path he’s currently on is Hall of Fame-like,” Cashman said at the Yankees’ 13th annual news conference to discuss the path ahead from a season that fell short. “Nothing better than to have him continue to man right field for us and impact us on and off the field the way he has thus far.”

Cashman, the general manager since 1998, and Aaron Boone, the manager since the 2018 season, spoke 12 days after the Houston Astros completed a four-game AL Championship Series sweep of New York. While Houston is one win from its second World Series title in six seasons, the Yankees haven’t reached the Series since winning in 2009 – their longest gap since 1978 to 1996.

Three days after the Yankees were eliminated, owner Hal Steinbrenner told The Associated Press he intended to keep Boone, who agreed in October 2021 to a three-year contract.

“As far as the job security, I’ve never worried about that – ever,” Boone said. “And the reality is last year I signed an extension and so my focus is on putting my steps forward to what’s next.”

Cashman’s five-year contract expired Monday and Steinbrenner is expected to give him a new deal.

“I’d like to stay, but we have had not had any further discussion on that,” said Cashman, who replaced Bob Watson in 1998. “We’re dealing with a lot of other employment stuff with other people, but all in due time. So, we’ll see how that plays out but obviously I’d love to stay, and he’s expressed interest in having me stay.”

Judge is eligible to become a free agent on the day after the World Series and the outfielder can negotiate contract terms with all teams starting with the sixth day after the Series ends.

Ahead of opening day, Judge rejected a contract that would have paid him $213.5 million from 2023-29. He set an AL record with 62 homers, finished tied for the major league lead with 131 RBIs and was second in the AL with a .311 batting average.

“He’s a fan favorite,” Cashman said. “He interacts with our fans extremely well. He’s respected within that clubhouse, goes about his business as good as you possibly can and is an elite performer and one of the game’s best, if not the best player.”

Judge had a $19 million salary this year and the 30-year-old is likely to command a long-term contract worth over $300 million.

“We’ll have certainty the conversations as promised and see where they take us, but he’s put himself in a great position to have a lot of choices,” Cashman said.

Judge has helped drive Yankees revenue, drawing full houses for September weeknight games that usually lag midsummer attendance.

“As George Steinbrenner said, he puts fannies in the seats,” Cashman said. “People want to go watch that guy play, and you want to put great teams on the field that they want to come here to watch compete and win. Certain individual players transcend the team and everything stops when they’re at the bat or they have the ball in their hand. He’s one of those types of talents.”

Boone’s pitching and outfield decisions were questioned during the Division Series against Cleveland and he was criticized by some for pulling Gerrit Cole with the bases loaded in the sixth inning of Game 3 of the ALCS and for letting an injured Nestor Cortes remain in Game 4.

“I think Aaron did a great job,” Cashman said. “I think he’s got a great demeanor, a great rapport with his players.”

Cashman also hopes to retain Matt Blake, who finished his third season as pitching coach.

New York is interested in keeping Anthony Rizzo, who can give up a $16 million salary for next season an become a free agent. New York intends to exercise right-hander Luis Severino‘s $15 million team option.

Other free agents are pitcher Jameson Taillon; outfielder Andrew Benintendi; utility players Matt Carpenter and Marwin Gonzalez; and relievers Chad Green, Miguel Castro, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman.

Benintendi missed the postseason with broken right wrist while DJ LeMahieu was unavailable for the postseason due to a foot injury. New York also went through the postseason without injured relievers Michael King (fractured elbow), Ron Marinaccio (shin), Green (Tommy John surgery), Scott Effross (Tommy John surgery) and Britton (setback following Tommy John surgery).

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today

ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.