(Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

The New York Yankees are in the midst of a transformation in how they build their roster. The club still spends plenty of money - they will open the season with a payroll approaching $220 million - but they have begun to preach and follow through on getting younger and more athletic throughout the roster. This was abundantly clear in the offseason when they did not sign a single player to an MLB free-agent contract. The Yankees did however take on more salary by adding three quality players, and considering the returning players, the club has improved on paper and has a chance to return to the postseason in 2016.

Rotation

Nathan Eovaldi took the first step to becoming a dominant starter in 2015. After a slow start, Eovaldi went through a stretch during the summer in which he went 10-2, with a 2.93 ERA across 12 starts (73 2/3 innings). Eovaldi worked hard at mastering a split-finger fastball, while honing in on the location of his fastball. Eovaldi's season came to an abrupt end when sidelined with an elbow injury, but it seems a non-issue as he pitched well this spring.

Michael Pineda is an enigma. He owns fantastic stuff, but fails to deliver it on a regular basis. He looks like a Cy Young contender at times and a run-of-the-mill pitcher on others. The Yankees need Pineda to work deeper into games in 2016 and reach the 30-start mark; something he has never done. If he can do both, there is a chance Pineda rises to the top of the rotation.

Luis Severino enters his first full season in the big leagues and it is difficult to tamper expectations for his sophomore season after a fabulous freshman campaign (62 1/3 IP, 2.89 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 22 BB, 56 K). Severino will be working without an innings limit and if he is able to continue on the path he started last season, he could lift his name near the top of the list of the young up-and-coming pitchers in baseball.

Masahiro Tanaka's chance to show he is the best starter on the club is dwindling. Tanaka made 24 starts in 2015 and in all pitched well (24 GS, 154 IP, 12-7, 3.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 27 BB, 139 K). Tanaka has great stuff, but he is not entirely consistent and still allows too many home runs (25 in 2015). Tanaka pitches with a partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, but if he can manage 30-plus starts this season, it will provide a boost to the rotation.

The competition for the fifth starter in the rotation remains unsettled with CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova awaiting word from the club at press time. Sabathia was not especially good early in spring, but his last two outings (four earned runs in nine combined innings) might be enough to make the club believe he can keep the team in games he starts. Nova finished the spring with a six-inning scoreless start, but that followed two disastrous outings.

In my opinion, the option of putting Sabathia in the bullpen seems to be a risky prospect for someone who has NEVER worked out in relief in his 15 major league seasons and might not fully embrace the role from a mental perspective. Nova has just over 17 innings of relief pitching in his MLB career, but his repertoire seems like a better bet to succeed out of the bullpen compared to Sabathia's offerings. When it comes down to it, I believe the Yankees will peg Sabathia as the fifth starter, but with an incredibly short leash.

Bullpen

The relief crew might look like nothing like we expected Monday. With Aroldis Chapman out until May 9 due to his domestic violence suspension, the Yankees got a big scare when a line drive drilled Andrew Miller on Tuesday, resulting in a chip fracture to his right wrist. Miller wants to pitch through the injury, but if he is unable to be ready for Opening Day, Dellin Betances takes over the closer role until one of the southpaws return.

Betances is a dominant pitcher, one who has soared to the top-tier of the relief pitcher rankings in all of baseball. The Yankees were hoping to throttle back on Betances' usage in 2016, but that desire might take a back seat due to the injury problems.

As for Chapman, he will have to work with minor leaguers for the next several weeks. He is not allowed to participate in game action while suspended, so the team will have to replicate that as much as possible to keep Chapman's arm fresh and ready to step right in May 9.

Behind the Big Three, Chasen Shreve seems to be the next in line to receive significant high-impact innings. Shreve was fantastic for much of 2015, and has been great this spring. With one more season under his belt, Shreve is an important reliever, especially with the potential loss of Miller.

Johnny Barbato and Luis Cessa, both newcomers to the roster, will join the loser of the fifth starter competition. That leaves one spot (or two depending on Miller's availability). Barbato is hard-throwing righty with a good curveball. Cessa impressed the Yankees from the start of spring and should be one of the swingmen in the bullpen. Both pitchers might find themselves getting some important innings early on with news that the Yankees will be without Bryan Mitchell for at least three months due to a broken big toe and turf toe.

The remaining slot looks to be going to another fresh face in Kirby Yates as he's the last reliever left in camp, although the club could opt to sign someone left off another club's roster. Branden Pinder, James Pazos or Nick Rumbelow -- all of whom were recently sent down to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre -- could get a shot if Miller hits the disabled list. Again, going outside the organization is always an option to sub for Miller as well.

What to expect from Yankees' pitching

In my view, everything revolves around the starting rotation, even more so because of the bullpen injuries. Yankees' starters absolutely have to pitch deeper into games in an effort to not overuse their best relievers and so that the younger relievers are not overly exposed.

The Yankees might not have a true ace, but I see Eovaldi and Severino taking the next steps in their careers, and one or the other of Tanaka and Pineda finally having a full season of starts. Finally, I expect Sabathia and Nova to trade off and on with the fifth starter role throughout the season, with the team going with the hot hand.

As for the bullpen, if Miller can pitch through the injury and not make things worse, the club will have avoided a big issue. Once Chapman comes back from the suspension, the Yanks will be tough to beat when they have a lead after six innings. However, the squad cannot rely on those three names alone; Shreve will need to continue his assent and at least one more reliever will need to step up his game so the backend of the pen remains strong in September.

Catcher

Brian McCann set career highs in home runs (26) and RBIs (94) in 2015, regaining much of the offensive prowess he displayed while with the Atlanta Braves. Behind the plate, McCann suffered a downturn in framing skills according to StatCorner, but threw out 36 percent of potential base stealers, which surpassed the league average of 32 percent. Similar offensive stats and a return to elite level pitch framing that McCann had been know will be a certain advantage the Yankees have over other teams.

First Base

The Yankees are virtually relying on a repeat performance from Mark Teixeira after the 35-year-old smashed 31 home runs in just 462 plate appearances in 2015. Teixeira faltered as the calendar changed to August after reviving his career over the first four months of the season. Worse for Teixeira, he suffered a season-ending injury after fouling a ball off his shin causing a fracture. Teixeira was able to sustain health until the freak injury, but has not played more than 123 games in a season since 2011. Teixeira looked agile at first base and saved plenty of errors around the diamond, something I expect to continue again this season.

Second Base

One of the major trades the Yankees made this offseason was for 26-year-old Starlin Castro. Castro has enjoyed a very good spring, which is a continuation from his superb offensive finish to the 2015 season. In my opinion, Castro has the most upside of this group from an offensive standpoint and remains young enough to flourish. Castro is still learning the position, but he has shown good range and his powerful arm will aid him make up the difference if he finds himself out of position at times.

Third Base

Chase Headley is coming off what has become an average season from him from an offensive standpoint, and as such, expecting much more is likely a mistake. Headley had an impressive two-month summer stretch in 2015, so the ability is still there, but he slumped offensively along with almost everyone else as the season wound down. Hitting toward the bottom of the lineup, Headley's bat is not as important as the necessity of his fielding efforts bouncing back to form after making an uncharacteristic 23 errors in 2015.

Shortstop

Didi Gregorius grew as a hitter in 2015, and since he is just 26 years old, there is still a chance he can grow further at the plate. Gregorius, who was expected to provide above-average fielding, failed to do so from the onset. He seemed to be pressing and it was affecting much of his defensive game. Once Gregorius felt comfortable in pinstripes, he showed the slick fielding and strong arm many proclaimed he possessed. Once the fielding came back to form, Gregorius began to hit.

Left field

Brett Gardner was the consummate top of the order hitter for the first half of the 2015 season, helping him earn his first All-Star appearance. Unfortunately, Gardner's production fell off the map over the season's final three months. Worse, it was the second straight season in which Gardner suffered a second-half slump. The Yankees absolutely need Gardner to utilize his speed on the bases and in the outfield this season. Gardner has professed to want to steal more bases and it is imperative that he does so when he finds himself in a good running situation. In the field, Gardner defense is diminishing according to advanced metrics, something that must improve in spacious Yankee Stadium.

Center field

The Yankees desperately need Jacoby Ellsbury, along with Gardner, to have banner and complete seasons in 2016. Ellsbury got off to a great start in 2015, helping to catapult the Yankees into first place after the first month-plus of the season. Unfortunately, Ellsbury was hobbled with a knee injury in May of which he never fully recuperated. The Yankees hope Ellsbury's offensive decline was due to the balky knee, because if it was simply about age the team will be dreading the moment they signed him to a seven-year, $153 million before the 2014 season. Provided he is healthy, Ellsbury is still a decent fielder who can cover enough ground in center field, albeit with a weak arm.

Right field

Carlos Beltran looked old and overmatched during the first month of the 2015 season. His bat was slow, and his feet were like cement in the field. The work in the outfield never really improved for the 39-year-old, but his bat was the most consistent on the roster from May 1 on. Beltran was an incredibly productive hitter, and I have no reason to believe he cannot duplicate that this season. I do think Beltran will be given more rest in 2016 and might be removed for defense in tight games, but his swan-song season in the Bronx could be one to remember.

Designated Hitter

No one knew what to expect from Alex Rodriguez when he returned to the field after a full season off; certainly 33 home runs and 86 RBIs was seemingly out of the picture. Rodriguez's late-season doldrums likely stemmed from extensive playing time after missing the entire 2014 season. Like Teixeira, A-Rod will require some extra rest this season and the club has a host of players who can grab a half-day off when the 40-year-old veteran sits.

Bench

The Yankees will likely rest Teixeira more often in 2016, using Dustin Ackley as the primary backup at first base. Ackley, a left-handed hitter who can also play the corner outfield positions, has some pop in his bat so there will not be too much of a drop in offensive production when he is in the lineup. The Yankees might give away some defense when Ackley is covering first, but he is athletic enough to be a fair defender.

Aaron Hicks is expected to play at least three or four days per week in an effort to keep the starting outfielders strong. Hicks can play each of the outfield positions quite well, and he may have yet to reach his offensive potential. Hicks feasts on left-handed pitching so it would make sense to see him face as many southpaws as possible this season. If Hicks can pick it up from the left side of the plate, he could be a special addition to the club.

Austin Romine deserves a lot of credit for making it back to the major league club as the backup catcher. While he might be passed by Gary Sanchez at some point this season, Romine showed a good deal of perseverance by improving his hitting skills and sticking to learning the craft behind the plate. Romine will be perfectly fine as McCann's backup for as long as the club feels Sanchez needs in Triple-A.

Ronald Torreyes was a member of five clubs during the last two seasons (including two stays with the Yankees) and finds himself as the club's utility infielder. Torreyes beat out Rob Refsnyder and Pete Kozma in the process. Torreyes is a strong defender, who can play second base, shortstop and third base. Torreyes' ability to spell Gregorius at shortstop, along with his solid on-base skills, it helped push him to the role.

What to expect from the Yankees' offense

The Yankees offense seeks to remain one of the top run-scoring units in the league and I believe they can approach their numbers from last season as a group.

When Ellsbury and Gardner are at their best, it allows for the Yankees middle of the lineup batters to reach their max potential. When Ellsbury and Gardner struggle to get on base, it forces the run-producing bats to press and leads to the complete downfall of the offense.

Expecting both Teixeira and Rodriguez to reach the offensive metrics they achieved in 2015 might be a stretch, but they certainly have the ability to come close provided they receive ample rest. With McCann and Beltran, the Yanks can withstand occasional slumps from Teixeira and Rodriguez.

The bottom third of the Yankees lineup will generally consist of Headley, Gregorius and Castro in what will probably be a fluctuating order. Expect Hicks to get his fair share of plate appearances, and prosper in his role.

What to expect from the Yankees' defense

I believe the Yankees defense is solid. I am not sure if they will be spectacular, but I also do not see defense dragging the team down. A lot depends on how Castro grows in his position, and if Headley can return to the dependable fielder, he was when he arrived in New York in 2014. The Yankees will benefit from having Hicks on the bench to spell any of the outfielders, especially on days in which he plays in right field for Beltran.

Manager

Joe Girardi continues to find it difficult to command respect from Yankees fans. Some of this he brings on himself, but it is also part of the fans desire to win - all the time.

Girardi owns a reputation as a manager with his binder full of statistical information and being unable to remove himself from what the numbers suggest. At the same time, many claim Girardi sticks with veterans too often and fails to develop young players.

A lot of that remained the same in 2015, but Girardi has shown some signs of change. He benched Ellsbury for last season's wild card game. He allowed Severino to prosper in the rotation versus sending him down when the other starters were healthy. He named Mitchell a part of this season's bullpen instead of relegating him to the Triple-A squad. Barbato and Cessa will get a chance to show their abilities.

The list of "unconventional for Girardi" moves continues to grow; maybe he finally sees the need for some balance. This season will once again test his abilities to get the most out of an aging roster and a group of talented and inspired young players.

Front Office

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and his brain trust deserve some credit for the offseason they put together. Without damaging their farm system, and in dealing two relievers, the club upgraded in spots of need, and put a stamp on the backend of the bullpen.

The Yankees turned a 28-year-old lefty with control problems into two young promising pitchers, with one (Cessa) already making the club. They lost an important piece in swingman Adam Warren, but gained a boost at second base with Castro. This was especially important, as the keystone has been a black hole since Robinson Cano left for Seattle. Finally, the Yankees jumped on a bargain basement price for the hardest throwing closer in the game in Chapman.

Expect the Yankees to continue to hone their system by moving pieces from one aspect of the club for another. The Yankees will have some decisions to make with young players this season such as Sanchez, Refsnyder and Aaron Judge. When is it the right time to bring them up and let them stick? Alternatively, will a player from another team, one that is young and cost-controlled become available?

What does it all mean?

The Yankees have the benefit of going through this transformation phase with plenty of talented players filling the roster. Are they the favorites to win the American League East among the national baseball media? Hardly. Should the teams in their division take them seriously? Absolutely.

The Yankees, as all clubs, need to stay healthy. It is hard to quantify how a team will perform without believing each of the players charged with the task of winning is on the field 90-100 percent of the time. In my view, if they avoid major injuries along the way, the club has enough to succeed to reach the postseason in 2016.

Part of the reason the Yankees have a chance to win the AL East is because they play in a division without a superior team. Each club has its flaws, and its strengths. Teams with a potent offense have a suspect rotation (Toronto, Boston and Baltimore), and another team possesses a collection of good arms, but fails to scare opponents in the batter's box (Tampa Bay).

The Yankees on the other hand seem to be the most balanced team in the division. Yes, they are older in spots. It is true that they are more susceptible to injuries because of past issues. Nevertheless, if the rotation has three members rise to their abilities, the backend of the bullpen pitches to the back of their baseball card, and if the Yankees can manage to be in the top-5 offenses in the league, (they scored the second most runs in the AL in 2015) they can certainly be a force in the division.

I believe that the Yankees will finish with a record of 88-74, which might be enough to win the division considering I fully expect a good deal of cannibalism among the AL East teams. I feel 88 wins gets the Yankees back into the postseason, and if they can, they will have as good of a chance of reaching the World

Tags: Ivan Nova, Alex Rodriguez, Andrew Miller, Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran, CC Sabathia, Chase Headley, Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius, Jacoby Ellsbury, Luis Severino, Mark Teixeira, Masahiro Tanaka, Nathan Eovaldi, Christopher Carelli

In a low scoring affair, the Yankees beat the Pirates 4-1 behind Billy McKinney's three-run HR and Erik Kratz's RBI single.

To see the full box score, click here!

Three things you should know about today's game...

1. The Brandon Drury era got underway with a spring training single to left field.

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Aaron Boone admits it may be too optimistic to expect prospect Thairo Estrada to be ready for the beginning of the minor league season, but says he doesn't think that Estrada will miss too much time.

Estrada is recovering at Yankees camp and has been able to use the elliptical. The gunshot wound occurred during an attempted robbery in Venezuela last month.

"There's no chance we're going to push it too much with him," Boone said, via Coley Harvey of ESPN. "But I'm still hopeful that this isn't something that is going to cost him the bulk of the season by any means..."

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New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone watches his team workout at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Jonathan Dyer/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone watches his team workout at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Jonathan Dyer/USA TODAY Sports)

The Yankees continue Grapefruit League play against the Pirates on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. at McKechnie Field.

Who is starting for the Yankees?

RHP Domingo German, who went 7-2 with a 2.83 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) with Double-A Trenton in 2017.

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GEICO SportsNite: Yankees win 00:02:01
Sweeny Murti reports from Steinbrenner Field, where the Yankees won their spring opener and Aaron Boone and Giancarlo Stanton debuted.

 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

Every spectator in the stands at George M. Steinbrenner Field was looking for No. 27 in pinstripes as Giancarlo Stanton took the field for the first time as a Yankee. 

In his highly anticipated debut, Stanton said nerves weren't really a feeling he possessed walking out on the field. It's strictly business when he crosses the chalk. 

"Once I get in between the ilnes, it's ready to go," Stanton told ESPN's Coley Harvey. "But it's definitely a cool anticipation. Something new -- new and exciting."

Tags: Greg Bird
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Loud Mouths: Starting Lineup 00:05:03
The Loud Mouths discuss Dom Smith being scratched from the Mets' lineup and Giancarlo Stanton debuting in today's Spring Training games

The Yankees beat the Tigers, 3-1, in their Grapefruit League opener on Friday afternoon in Tampa.

To see the full box score, click here!

Three things you should know about today's game...

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New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone speaks during a news conference at baseball spring training camp, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (AP)
New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone speaks during a news conference at baseball spring training camp, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (AP)

The Yankees open Grapefruit League play against the Detroit Tigers on Friday at 1:05 p.m. at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Tags: Detroit Tigers, Luis Cessa
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GEICO SportsNite: Boone ready 00:02:08
Yankees manager Aaron Boone plans to use the team's first exhibition game of Spring Training on Friday to help prepare for the 2018 season.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone plans to use the team's first exhibition game of Spring Training on Friday to help prepare for the 2018 season.


Feb 22, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees infielder Brandon Drury (29) during batting practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports (Jonathan Dyer)
Feb 22, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees infielder Brandon Drury (29) during batting practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports (Jonathan Dyer)

Brandon Drury, the Yankees' newest addition, arrived at the team's spring training camp in Tampa after being acquired from the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night in a three-team trade that saw the Yankees ship out prospects 2B Nick Solak and RHP Taylor Widener.

Though having been on the team for mere days, Drury is already speaking like a Yankee veteran by publically focusing his attention on the World Series. 

"I'm excited. I want to win a World Series, that's the goal here,'' Drury said, via Pete Caldera of Record. "We've got the guys to do it. So, to join a group of guys like this, it's special to me..."

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Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson reaches up to grab a throw as he works out with the Texas Rangers during spring training baseball practice, Monday, March 3, 2014, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson reaches up to grab a throw as he works out with the Texas Rangers during spring training baseball practice, Monday, March 3, 2014, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Russell Wilson is on his way to join the Yankees at Spring Training and his locker will be next to another new Yankee, Brandon Drury, who also happens to be a childhood Seahawks fan.

Wilson announced in an Instagram video that he'll be in camp with the Yankees on Monday, February 26. He name-checked Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, saying he's looking forward to joining those guys...

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Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archive

When the Yankees pulled off Tuesday's trade for infielder Brandon Drury, it did more than solidify the team's current roster construction. It provides the team significant advantages with how it molds the organization's structure going forward.

Drury is to be paid at a pre-arbitration rate for the 2018 season (he made $553,900 in 2017, so a fair guess is $600,000 this season), which leaves the Yankees practically all of the $15 million it has been reported they would be willing to take on before the season begins. That value provides a cushion of approximately $5 million for the club to utilize during the season, and would keep the team under the competitive balance tax threshold.

Tags: Chance Adams, Jordan Montgomery, Justus Sheffield, Miguel Andujar
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New York Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar singles during the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar singles during the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

Yankees prospect Miguel Andujar looked to be on the road to starting the regular season in pinstripes. But after the signing of veteran INF Brandon Drury, it could be a start in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre instead. 

Andujar was slated the starter at third base for the Yankees all offseason. That is until New York struck a three-way deal with the D-Backs and Rays to land Drury, who was on their radar. Though Drury can play multiple infield positions, third base is his forté, and the Yankees intend for him to compete there in Tampa. 

Instead of rolling his eyes at the signing, Andjuar welcomes the competition. 

Tags: Miguel Andujar
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GEICO SportsNite: Drury's role 00:02:17
Yankees manager Aaron Boone and GM Brian Cashman discuss their excitement over Brandon Drury, but still want Miguel Andujar to be involved.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone and GM Brian Cashman discuss their excitement over Brandon Drury, but still want Miguel Andujar to be involved.


New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman during practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman during practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports)

Despite advancing further in the playoffs than them last year and acquiring the reigning National League MVP in the offseason, the Yankees are not the favorites in the AL East, GM Brian Cashman believes.

Instead, he believes that title goes to the defending division champion Boston Red Sox.

"They're the American League East champs, so we're not on equal footing," Cashman said, according to Newsday's Erik Boland. "We're not on equal footing until we take that away from them [and] at the same time, prevent anybody that finished behind us from surpassing us and joining the fray."

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New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge looks on as he hits during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge looks on as he hits during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

The Yankees are being cautious with outfielder Aaron Judge following offseason shoulder surgery and won't have him make his spring training debut until next Wednesday, new manager Aaron Boone told reporters.

Judge, the AL Rookie of the Year in 2017, underwent arthroscropic surgery on his left shoulder in November to remove loose bodies and clean up cartilage, but "is in a really good place physically," according to Boone.

"In a lot of ways he's raring to go," Boone said, according to the New York Daily News' Mike Mazzeo, "but we're going to be real cautious and slow-play it a bit."

Tags: Aaron Judge
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New York Yankees right fielder Jabari Blash throws a ball during practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees right fielder Jabari Blash throws a ball during practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports)

The Yankees traded outfielder Jabari Blash to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday for a player to be named later or cash considerations, the team announced.

Blash, who was designated for assignment on Tuesday following the three-team trade that brought Brandon Drury to New York, only spent two months as a Yankee after he was acquired in the trade that sent Chase Headley to the San Diego Padres.

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 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

Though overshadowed by the behemoth trio of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary SanchezGreg Bird is an important player in the Yankees' lineup. And both he and GM Brian Cashman are hoping he can stay on the field more this season. 

Bird's early career has already been ravaged by injuries, as shoulder surgery saw him miss the entire 2016 season, and he played just 48 big league games last year because of an ankle injury. 

Bird comes into Spring Training healthy, and despite his issues the past two seasons, Cashman believes he can keep it that way. 

Tags: Greg Bird, Tyler Austin
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GEICO SportsNite: Drury trade 00:02:12
In a three-way trade with the D-backs and the Rays, the Yankees have acquired 25-year-old infielder Brandon Drury.

The Yankees have acquired INF Brandon Drury from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team deal involving the Tampa Bay Rays, the team announced.

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New York Yankees shortstop Tyler Wade (82) throws to first base for the out on Philadelphia Phillies' Brock Stassi (78) (not pictured) in the fifth inning of a baseball game during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Butch Dill)
New York Yankees shortstop Tyler Wade (82) throws to first base for the out on Philadelphia Phillies' Brock Stassi (78) (not pictured) in the fifth inning of a baseball game during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Butch Dill)

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archive

Top prospects typically garner most of the attention in spring training, especially those like Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, who are the presumed favorites to land starting roles in the Yankees' infield. However, it's never wise to sleep on a mid-tier prospect that has busted it on the field to reach the big leagues like Tyler Wade managed in 2017.

Wade was provided just 58 at-bats across the three-plus months he spent on the Yankees roster in 2017. As such, Wade is no longer a rookie, but the 23-year-old is vastly inexperienced in terms of reps in the major leagues.

Tags: Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade, Chris Carelli
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Feb 19, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees players warm up during practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports (Butch Dill)
Feb 19, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees players warm up during practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports (Butch Dill)

Vegas has the Yankees tied with the defending World Series-champion Astros for the best odds to win the American League pennant, per Bovada.

New York and Houston both have 11/4 odds to win the pennant, while the Indians (13/4) and Red Sox (6/1) are behind them.

The Yankees were a game short of the World Series last season, where the Astros eventually finished them off in their own Minute Maid Park on their way to their first World Series title in franchise history. 

Tags: Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird
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GEICO SportsNite: Yankees 00:01:44
Sweeny Murti reports from Yankees Spring Training, where Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez took batting practice together.

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone watches his team workout at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Jonathan Dyer/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone watches his team workout at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Jonathan Dyer/USA TODAY Sports)

While the Yankees enter 2018 with World Series expectations and GM Brian Cashman also said the team's goal is to win it all for the 28th time, new manager Aaron Boone said he and the players will "embrace" the large expectations set for them.

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Murti watches Yankees BP 00:01:37
SNY's Sweeny Murti watched Yankees batting practice from beyond the fence as he tried to catch home runs from Judge and Stanton.

 (Shanna Lockwood)
(Shanna Lockwood)

Major League Baseball continues to implement new rules to increase the pace-of-play, so the game can move at a more steady pace. While the pitch clock and batter having to keep one foot in the batter's box have aided in speeding the game up, the MLB has now issued a mandate limiting the amount of mound visits for each team. 

Mound visits will be capped at six per game. The definition of a mound visit was specified by the MLB in an official announcement. 

"A manager or coach trip to the mound to meet with the pitcher shall constitute a visit," the statement read. "A player leaving his position to confer with the pitching, inlcuding a pitcher leaving the mound to confer with another player, shall also constitute a mound visit, regardless of where the visit occurs or the length of the visit..."

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GEICO SportsNite: Yankees 00:05:49
Giancarlo Stanton discusses donning pinstripes for the first time and Jacoby Ellsbury quells trade rumors.

Mar 10, 2017; Clearwater, FL, USA; New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (24) reaches on error and scores a run during the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 10, 2017; Clearwater, FL, USA; New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (24) reaches on error and scores a run during the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez has hit 53 home runs through his first 177 career MLB games, but perhaps his biggest accomplishment as a hitter came during Sunday's spring training batting practice when he hit a ball so hard the cover ripped off.

Seriously.

Tags: Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez
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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Yankees OF Jacoby Ellsbury saw diminished playing time and suffered injuries last season, but he is determined to make the most of his opportunities in spring training.

Tags: Jacoby Ellsbury
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Scottsdale Scorpions infielder Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees against the Glendale Desert Dogs during an Arizona Fall League game at Scottsdale Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)
Scottsdale Scorpions infielder Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees against the Glendale Desert Dogs during an Arizona Fall League game at Scottsdale Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Yankees top prospect Gleyber Torres has definitely learned his lesson. He will focus on sliding feet first from now on. 

"I'll try not to slide head first," Torres told NJ.com' Brendan Kuty at Yankees camp in Tampa.

An arrant head-first slide from Torres into home last season ended his 2017 campaign, as he required Tommy John surgery on his left elbow after the injury. So, the Yankees are stressing the 21-year-old to go feet-first into bases. 

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GEICO SportsNite: Boone excited 00:03:28
After an impressive offseason, Yankees manager Aaron Boone is excited to finally work with his new team this spring down in Florida.

After an impressive offseason, Yankees manager Aaron Boone is excited to finally work with his new team this spring down in Florida.


Feb 17, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) catches fly balls during spring training workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Feb 17, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) catches fly balls during spring training workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

Yankees OF Aaron Judge practiced in center field with outfield coordinator Reggie Willets on Saturday, but manager Aaron Boone said there is no plan to move the 25-year-old to the position.

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Dec 7, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Yankees logo during the MLB winter meetings at Gaylord Opryland Resort . Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports (Jim Brown)
Dec 7, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Yankees logo during the MLB winter meetings at Gaylord Opryland Resort . Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports (Jim Brown)

Despite having an appendectomy on February 7th, Yankees no. 7 overall prospect RHP Albert Abreu is ready for 2018.

When Abreu began to feel a sharp pain in his stomach, he didn't know why. Then, before he knew it, he was in a hospital bed, recovering from surgery a fortnight ahead of the Yankees' first spring training game.

"It's different because you think it's something you ate that's giving you the pain," Abreu said, via Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. "If you haven't had the experience of something like that, you really don't know what's going on. Eventually, they tell you it's the appendix..."

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GEICO SportsNite: Murti on Yanks 00:02:10
SNY Yankees insider Sweeny Murti joins GEICO SportsNite to give an update on the arrival of Giancarlo Stanton to Tampa.

Stanton arrives at camp 00:03:33
As Giancarlo Stanton arrives at Yankees Spring Training, the Daily News Live panel breaks down his potential impact on the team's clubhouse.

Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton showed up to Yankees spring training in Tampa, Florida, early as he looks to get acclimated to a new team.

"I'm out of my comfort zone," Stanton, who was traded from the Marlins to New York in the offseason, said, according to ESPN's David Schoenfield. "I've done it the same way for 10 years."

The reigning National League MVP, who led the majors with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs last season, joined a Yankees team that came within one win of the World Series. 

"This is all new to me," Stanton said, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. "It's going to be a fun new ride. I'd say it is a new excitement."

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New York Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances walks off the field after a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Baltimore won 7-6. (AP)
New York Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances walks off the field after a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Baltimore won 7-6. (AP)

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archive

The Yankees had a surprisingly magical 2017 season with numerous high quality and breakout performances; however, there were a few players whose production the club hopes is not duplicated in 2018.

Dellin Betances

Betances has never been the model of command on the mound. His inability to control his large frame forced the Yankees to convert him to a reliever in the minors as a last-ditch effort to squeeze value out of a highly touted prospect.

Tags: Aroldis Chapman, Austin Romine, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Chris Carelli
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GEICO SportsNite: Sabathia news 00:01:52
Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia is preparing to go farther than the ALCS this season and hopes to supplant the Astros as AL champions.

Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia is preparing to go farther than the ALCS this season and hopes to supplant the Astros as AL champions.


New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia reacts as he walks back to the dugout in the second inning of Game 2 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Dermer) (David Dermer/AP)
New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia reacts as he walks back to the dugout in the second inning of Game 2 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Dermer) (David Dermer/AP)

As spring training gets underway, a number of big-name players remain unsigned: Jake Arrieta, JD Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and others. 

Meanwhile, CC Sabathia could have been in this position if he and the Yankees hadn't agreed to terms early in the offseason. If the 37-year-old was still on the open market, he'd be feeling uneasy right about now.

"I'd be panicking," Sabathia said, via Erik Boland of Newsday...

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East infielder Miguel Andujar of the New York Yankees during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Surprise Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
East infielder Miguel Andujar of the New York Yankees during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Surprise Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

When the Yankees failed to sign 3B Todd Frazier, who stayed in New York by inking a deal with the Mets, it was another sign pointing to the trust the Yankees have in rookie 3B Miguel Andujar. It appears that third base is his to lose in spring training. 

Andujar's bat appears ready for Major League pitching. Over 227 at-bats in AAA last season, Andujar hit .317/.364/.502 with 9 HR and 30 RBI. But his bat has never been doubted; there are questions about his glove.

"There's no question in my mind that he's going to hit and hit for a long time in this league," said Aaron Boone, via Erik Boland of Newsday. "And there's no question in my mind that defensively he'll be really good at some point..."

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Dec 11, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) is introduced with general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone. (Kim Klement)
Dec 11, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) is introduced with general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone. (Kim Klement)

Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter | Even fellow big leaguers sound a bit like goggle-eyed fans when talking about Giancarlo Stanton and the next phase of the prolific slugger's career -- calling Yankee Stadium home. And veteran baseball folks barely blink when producing outsized predictions about Stanton's potential in the Bronx, in that Yankee lineup, in that homer-friendly ballpark.

That, plus the intrigue over whether Stanton can avoid injury, learn to navigate the New York fishbowl, and cope with expectations as towering as some of his home runs, makes him a must-watch this season. The best home run hitter added to a team that perhaps surprised by getting within one game of the World Series last year? That'll draw eyeballs.

It all starts when Stanton reports to Yankee camp this weekend and the club has its first full-squad workout on Monday. While folks in Tampa will have an up-close look, the curiosity about Stanton in pinstripes extends to other camps and opposing team's corridors of power...

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Expectations for Sabathia in '18 00:04:49
CC Sabathia discusses how the New York Yankees still have something to prove against the reigning champs in the American League.

After rolling his left ankle during practice, CC Sabathia wants everyone to calm down. There is nothing to worry about.

"It was during PFPs [pitchers fielding practice] and I was fielding a ball," he told The Post's George A. King III. "I am good now."

Sabathia was seen with wrap around his rolled ankle, though, which begged the question of whether or not it was really ok. He just said head trainer Steve Donohue loves practicing his work at Spring Training too. 

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GEICO SportsNite: Judge ready 00:04:09
Sweeny Murti and John Harper discuss Aaron Judge's outlook and potential bounce back seasons for Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances.

Sweeny Murti and John Harper discuss Aaron Judge's outlook and potential bounce back seasons for Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances.


Mar 10, 2017; Clearwater, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Chance Adams (83) throws a pitch during the fourth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Mar 10, 2017; Clearwater, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Chance Adams (83) throws a pitch during the fourth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

Opening Day may still be six weeks away, but a trio of Yankees hurlers are armed and ready to showcase their talents at the Major League level right now.

RHP Chance AdamsDillon Tate and LHP Justus Sheffield may not be able to find room in the Yankees rotation at the start of the season, but that doesn't mean they aren't ready for what the big leagues has to offer.

"We really do feed off each other," said Sheffield, 22, who posted a 3.12 ERA in 19 minor league starts in 2017. "That's going to push us."

Tags: Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield
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New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge is introduced before Game 3 of the 2017 ALCS against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge is introduced before Game 3 of the 2017 ALCS against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archive

The Yankees will not be viewed as the lovable, up and coming "Baby Bombers" this season. Instead, the Yankees will come out of the gate as the hunted "Evil Empire," which comes with one expectation; winning a World Series title.

It is a poorly kept secret that a championship is the Yankees' Spring Training mantra year in and year out. However, over the last few seasons, fans, the players, coaches and front office would admit under truth serum that the club was not the best team in the league. Fresh off an incredible 2017 season and courtesy of a strong returning cast, more impact prospects on the horizon and a rather large addition (literally and figuratively), the 2018 Yankees have a legitimate chance to reach and win their 28th World Series.

Teams often relish the role of the underdog. Working under stamped down expectations from those outside the organization tends to create an "us versus them" mentality. The Yankees seemed to ride that sentiment through much of the 2017 season. That mindset is history.

Tags: Aaron Judge, Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Masahiro Tanaka
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Feb 14, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) holds a press conference during spring training workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)
Feb 14, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) holds a press conference during spring training workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)

Aaron Judge refuses to use a shoulder injury he suffered last season as an excuse for a subpar second half.

Speaking to reporters at the Yankees' Spring Training facility in Tampa on Wednesday, the 2017 A.L. Rookie of the Year talked about the injury and subsequent surgery he underwent in November.

"I felt it midway through the season last year," Judge said. "But it came down to, 'Can you play?' And I could play. ... If I was able to play, I was going to go out there and be ready for my team."

The 25-year-old hit .284/.422/.627 and set a Major League rookie record with 52 home runs to go along with 114 RBIs and an A.L.-best 127 walks.

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New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez and right fielder Aaron Judge celebrate the 6-3 win over the Minnesota Twins at a baseball game Tuesday, July 18, 2017, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn) (Bruce Kluckhohn/AP)
New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez and right fielder Aaron Judge celebrate the 6-3 win over the Minnesota Twins at a baseball game Tuesday, July 18, 2017, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn) (Bruce Kluckhohn/AP)

Gary Sanchez knows he needs to improve his defense after last season, and that is all he has been working on this offseason. 

"This offseason, I worked really hard on defense because I want to be better than last year," Sanchez told The Post's Dan Martin through his translator. "I want to fix all the little issues I had last year defensively and keep improving."

Sanchez came into Spring Training looking leaner as well, and though he said he didn't lose any weight, his physique could aid in his defensive abilities this season. The Yankees will hope so as his 16 passed balls last season were the most by any catcher. 

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Yankees' hunger to succeed 00:02:37
Sweeny Murti discusses Aaron Boone's desire for the Yankees to embrace their high expectations following a strong 2017 postseason run.

 (Butch Dill)
(Butch Dill)

Gleyber Torres highlighted the three Yankees who made Jim Bowden's Top 50 Prospects list as the No. 8 prospect this season.

Torres injured his non-throwing elbow last season, and it required Tommy John surgery to repair. But that didn't hinder Bowden's analysis that see the infielder being an important part of the Yankees' long-term plan. 

"Torres was the headliner in the Aroldis Chapman trade with the Cubs in July 2016," Bowden wrote. "He's capable of playing second, short or third but most likely profiles to the Yankees long-term solution at second base. He had Tommy John surgery to his non-throwing elbow and the Yankees are hopeful he'll be healthy enough to make their team out of spring training. He is a plus defender with soft hands and an accurate arm. He only an average runner, but all of his other tools are above average. he has really quick hands and wrists at the palte and his power should come as he matures..."

Tags: Gleyber Torres, Justus Sheffield
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BNNY: Sweeny Murti 00:05:59
Sweeny Murti reports live from Tampa to discuss how Aaron Boone will manage a team with championship aspirations as a rookie manager.

Yankees new manager Aaron Boone stepped on George M. Steinbrenner Field hungry. And so did his players. 

In his first press conference from the Yankees' Spring Training camp in Tampa, FL, Boone noted that every player he has spoken to is ready to live up to the high expectations everyone has for them this season. But he knows it is going to take tons of work on and off the field to get to the position they covet. 

Seeing that hunger, though, couldn't make Boone any happier. 

Tags: Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Tyler Wade
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Jul 2, 2017; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera (13) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)
Jul 2, 2017; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera (13) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)

In their search for an infielder, the Yankees could attempt to trade for the Mets' Asdrubal Cabrera, suggests the New York Post's Joel Sherman. Among a host of other infield options available via free agency or trade, Sherman writes that "maybe even the Mets' Asdrubal Cabrera could be had via a spring training trade if necessary."

The 32-year-old Cabrera, who is expected to be the Mets' starting second baseman, will earn $8.5 million this season, after which he is eligible for free agency.

Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter | Unless the Mets are confident in Wilmer Flores as their full-time second baseman, it would seem odd for them to entertain the idea of trading Cabrera to the Yankees. And even if the Mets are comfortable with Flores at second base, putting him there would remove the option of him being the right-handed part of a platoon at first base with either Adrian Gonzalez or Dominic Smith...

Tags: Asdrubal Cabrera
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Jun 16, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) pitches during the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Stanton)
Jun 16, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) pitches during the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Stanton)

The Yankees will be among the teams to attend the showcase of RHP Tim Lincecum, according to FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman.

Lincecum, 33, will throw in front of several teams, including the Braves, Brewers and Padres, according to Heyman, on Thursday at Driveline Research Lab in Seattle as he looks to make his first MLB appearance since 2016.

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