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).

Royals’ John Sherman optimistic about new ballpark, current team

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The first thing that Kansas City Royals owner John Sherman thinks about when he wakes up each morning is how the club, stuck in what seems like an interminable rebuild, will play on that particular day.

Not where they will play four or five years down the road.

Yet given the modest expectations for a team that lost nearly 100 games a year ago, it makes sense many Royals fans are just as interested – quite possibly more so – in the plans for a downtown ballpark than whether infielder Bobby Witt Jr. can double down on his brilliant rookie season or pitcher Brady Singer can truly become a staff ace.

That’s why Sherman’s second thought probably moves to the downtown ballpark, too.

“This is a huge decision, and I look at it as maybe the most important decision we’ll make as long as we have the privilege of stewarding this team,” Sherman said before the Royals held a final workout Wednesday ahead of opening day. “I’m probably as anxious as you to get moving on that, but it’s a complicated process.”

The Royals have called Kauffman Stadium home since the sister to Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, opened 50 years ago next month.

And while most stadiums are replaced because they have become outdated, the unique, space-aged look of Kauffman Stadium – built during an era in which teams trended toward impersonal, multisport concrete donuts for their homes – remains beloved by Royals fans and visitors alike.

The problem is that despite numerous renovations over the years, the very concrete holding the ballpark together has begun to crumble in places. The cost simply to repair and maintain the ballpark has become prohibitive.

So with the decision essentially made for them to build an entirely new stadium, the Royals revealed plans to build an entire development in the same mold of The Battery Atlanta, where the Braves built Truist Park, and the Ballpark Village in St. Louis, where the new Busch Stadium is merely the centerpiece of a whole entertainment district.

No site has been secured, but several of the most promising are in downtown Kansas City, where the Power & Light District along with T-Mobile Center have spearheaded a successful era of urban renewal.

Sherman has said that private funds would cover the majority of the stadium cost and the entire village, each carrying a price tag of about $1 billion.

But if any public funding will be used, as it was to build and maintain Kauffman Stadium, then it would need to be voted upon, and the earliest that it could show up on a ballot would be August.

“You look at Atlanta, they took some raw ground – they started with 85 acres – and that has been a complete home run,” said Sherman, who purchased the Royals in August 2019, shortly before the pandemic wreaked havoc on team finances.

“This is one of the reasons we want to do this: That’s helped the Braves become more competitive,” Sherman said of the vast potential for increased revenue for one of the smallest-market teams in baseball. “They have locked up and extended the core of their future, and the Braves are in a great position from a baseball standpoint.”

So perhaps the first two thoughts Sherman has each day – about performance and the future – are one and the same.

When it comes to the team itself, the Royals were largely quiet throughout the winter, though that was by design.

Rather than spending heavily on free agents that might help them win a few more games, they decided to stay the course with a promising young roster in the hopes that the development of those players would yield better results.

In fact, Sherman said, the club has been discussing extensions for some of the Royals’ foundational pieces – presumably Witt, who was fourth in voting for AL rookie of the year, and Singer, who was 10-5 with a 3.23 ERA last season.

“We’re having conversations about that as we speak,” Sherman said. “We have a number of young players that we’re trying to evaluate and we’re talking to their representatives about what might work.”

Just because the Royals’ roster largely looks the same, that doesn’t mean nothing has changed. The Royals fired longtime general manager Dayton Moore in September and moved J.J. Picollo to the role, then fired manager Mike Matheny in October and replaced him with longtime Indians and Rays coach Matt Quatraro.

Sherman said the new voices created a palpable energy in spring training that he hopes carries into the regular season.

“When we acquired the team, we had three primary objectives,” Sherman said. “One was to win more games; we’re working on that. The second was to secure the future; that’s what (the stadium) is. And the third was to do good in the community.

“But the first priority,” he said, “is really the on-field product. That’s what really lifts everything else up.”