The conclusion to the last managerial search of 2017 ended on Friday as news broke that Aaron Boone will become the next Yankees manager. Boone, who has spent the past eight years covering baseball at ESPN, now faces the task of taking a young and talented Yankees’ roster and improving on their early success.
Boone doesn’t have any experience to bring to his new job, but he does have a well-known connection to Yankees’ lore. Boone’s home run in the 11th inning of Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS off Tim Wakefield sent the Yankees to the World Series. It is an iconic moment in the rivalry between New York and the Boston Red Sox. Then, in the following offseason, he sustained an injury playing basketball that directly led to the Bombers landing Alex Rodriguez.
When the search for a new manager began, general manager Brian Cashman laid out a list of qualities he was looking for, and while no one candidate had a perfect resume, several possessed multiple pieces. What worked for Boone was his openness to utilizing analytics and an emphasis on communication, the latter of which Cashman defined as a problem during Girardi’s tenure.
It will be interesting to see how his relationship with the players develops now that he is the manager. The roster was notably vocal in support of Girardi during their postseason run. They defended him after his missed opportunity to challenge a hit-by-pitch call devolved into a blown lead in Game Two of the ALDS.
Former candidate Carlos Beltran was a member of the clubhouse two years ago and had an effective mentor role with several key players, including Aaron Judge. Both men seemingly would have been better than Boone in this regard, but developing that ability will be one of the many things he will have to learn on the fly.
Now that Boone is in place as manager, the Yankees’ attention fully shifts over to the rest of their offseason agenda, and immediately onto the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes. Ohtani, the latest Japanese superstar pitcher AND hitter, officially entered the market on Friday after MLB ratified a new posting system.
There were no reports that the Yankees had set a deadline to find their next manager, though it makes sense that they would want to finish the search prior to the bidding. Besides wanting to have their undivided attention on acquiring Ohtani, having the manager in place and active in a pitch where money has little to no influence in a decision seems prudent. Beyond Ohtani, the Yankees can also continue to feel out the free agent market, which has mostly been in a lull as the baseball world awaits a Giancarlo Stanton trade.
The ramifications of the Yankees hiring Boone to be their next manager will take a while to figure out. What it means for the team right now, however, is that the offseason is finally underway.