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Yankees in Need of Left Fielder and Bullpen Help

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Before the star outfielder Aaron Judge agreed to a nine-year, $360 million contract with the Yankees, he desired to make certain the team’s owner, Hal Steinbrenner, knew there was more work to be done. Not only this off-season, but at some stage in Judge’s tenure within the Bronx.

“That was one in every of the large questions that I asked him,” Judge said during a news conference on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium through which he was named the team’s captain. “If I’m coming back here for nine-plus years, I need to be in contention each 12 months. I don’t want to only get into the playoffs. I need to be the driving force that’s the team to beat within the postseason.”

Judge, who won the American League’s Most Precious Player Award in 2022, believes Steinbrenner has “backed up his commitment” to date this off-season. He cited the six-year, $162 million contract the team gave to the left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodón, whom Judge called a “bulldog.”

Judge also noted Latest York’s $40 million guarantee to first baseman Anthony Rizzo and the two-year, $11.5 million take care of Tommy Kahnle, a right-handed reliever who had pitched for the Yankees from 2017-20.

“He desires to win, similar to his dad,” Judge said of Steinbrenner and his father, George, the longtime owner of the team who died in 2010. “What the Steinbrenner family has built here and done here with the Yankees is something special. I feel he desires to proceed to construct on that legacy.”

Spending doesn’t guarantee championships, but Steinbrenner has faced criticism from some Yankees fans for not maximizing his team’s financial might amid a World Series drought that stretches back to 2009 — a protracted wait by Yankees standards. But Steinbrenner has doled out roughly $573.5 million this off-season while retaining Judge, a homegrown superstar, and putting his starting rotation excessive with the addition of Rodón.

That lump sum looks less impressive compared to the greater than $700 million Steven A. Cohen and the crosstown rival Mets have specified by recent weeks, but Steinbrenner knows there’s still work to be done.

“I’m not going to discuss specifics, but I do have a form of place I need to land,” Steinbrenner said Wednesday when asked about his payroll goals. “Whether we’re there or not, I’m not going to get into that. But all I can let you know is we’re not done yet.”

One obvious position the Yankees can upgrade is left field, though General Manager Brian Cashman said the team will evaluate any possible improvements moving forward. The rotation, nevertheless, looks set with Rodón, Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino and Frankie Montas.

The club has missed out on a handful of free agents in left field, including Andrew Benintendi, whom Latest York acquired in a deadline trade with the Kansas City Royals last summer. He played 33 games for the Yankees before breaking a wrist in early September. Benintendi recently agreed to a five-year, $75 million contract with the Chicago White Sox — a length the Yankees didn’t need to go to with Benintendi, a contact-oriented lefty swinger.

While most of the top free agents are actually off the board, one remaining option is Michael Conforto, 29, a former mainstay of the Mets who missed the complete 2022 season after shoulder surgery and carries with him a way of uncertainty. Outfielders which have been featured in trade rumors include Bryan Reynolds, 27, a star center fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and a bunch of three young Diamondbacks players: Daulton Varsho, 26 — who may also play catcher — Alek Thomas, 22, and Jake McCarthy, 25.

All of those players hit from the left side or are switch-hitters. The identical goes for 3 internal candidates Cashman mentioned: Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Cabrera, and Estevan Florial. Nevertheless, Hicks is coming off a poor campaign and is injury prone, while Cabrera, who made his major league debut in 2022, has limited outfield experience and should be best served in a utility role. Florial, 25, has never had big league success, though his probabilities have been limited.

“It’s an area that we’d prefer to improve if we are able to, but when we are able to’t, we’re going to go along with what we’ve,” Cashman said Wednesday. Up to now, he has made similar comments, only to make a splash later.

“We’re down a left-handed bat, which would slot in left field,” Cashman continued, noting the lack of Benintendi. “So that will be something we prefer. But at the identical time, you possibly can’t have every little thing you wish in any respect times. So we proceed to patiently assess opportunities and when something realistic comes into play that we’re comfortable with attempting to pull down, we’ll make some recommendations towards Hal. But it surely’s Dec. 21 and it’s been more of a challenge to unravel that. So, we’ll proceed to work.”

Left field is clearly at the highest of the to-do list, however it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Yankees added one other reliever this off-season. The team could also consider trading Hicks or third baseman Josh Donaldson, though it is perhaps hard to search out takers for expensive veterans coming off unproductive 2022 seasons.

Whatever happens between now and spring training, Judge, the Yankees’ newly anointed clubhouse leader, is confident that the team will look into, if not bolster, any areas of concern. Together with his latest deal in place, Judge expects the organization to be all in.

“There is perhaps a pair more moves down the road,” he said with Steinbrenner sitting next to him. “I’m not too sure. But I do know they’re all the time working on something to try to enhance this team day in and day trip, so I feel we’re definitely in good hands on that front.”

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