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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 11/9/21

Cole among Cy Young finalists; Luis Rojas “very likely” to be Yankees’ third-base coach; Yanks send scout to see Verlander; Nittoli signs; Castillo back on the block; Heaney joins Dodgers

New York Mets v New York Yankees - Game Two Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

NJ Advance Media | Brendan Kuty: Unsurprisingly, Yankees ace Gerrit Cole was announced as one of the finalists for the American League Cy Young Award, alongside Robbie Ray of the Toronto Blue Jays and Lance Lynn of the Chicago White Sox. Ray is seen as the slight favorite, but Cole has a strong case too with a 16-8 record, a 3.23 ERA, and a very good 2.92 FIP. He struck out 12.1 hitters per nine innings and 243 in total, the second-most in franchise history.

NY Post | Joel Sherman and Ken Davidoff: The Yankees reportedly came away very impressed with former Mets manager Luis Rojas, and he is a strong candidate to take the third-base coach job vacated by Phil Nevin. Rojas had a 103-119 record in two seasons in front of the crosstown rivals, but wasn’t offered the chance to return as their skipper.

Sources told The Post that Rojas will “very likely” be the Yankees’ new third-base coach. He seems like he’d be a pretty good hire, as he was widely acclaimed for his coaching acumen in the Mets system before joining the big league club. If Rojas is indeed hired, the Bombers would have three additional coaching positions to fill: hitting coach, assistant hitting coach, and first-base coach.

NY Post | Joel Sherman: The Yankees were reportedly one of the 15-20 teams in attendance for Justin Verlander’s showcase in Florida, which took place on Monday. The free agent pitcher reached 97 mph, and could make for an excellent free agent signing should he reject the Houston Astros’ qualifying offer of one-year for $18.4 million.

MLB Trade Rumors | Mark Polishuk: With the Cincinnati Reds trading and dumping some of their best players for money (Tucker Barnhart and Wade Miley are a couple of recent examples), they are now reportedly willing to discuss top starter Luis Castillo in trade talks.

Castillo has interested the Yankees in the past, and while he had a rough start of the year (more like a rough first couple of months), he warmed up in the summertime and ended up with a 3.98 ERA. He is controllable for two more seasons.

The Athletic | Ken Rosenthal: After failing in his short stint with the Yankees, left-handed starter Andrew Heaney chose the Los Angeles Dodgers as his new destination. The southpaw is in agreement with the 2020 champs on a one-year deal worth more than $8 million. Heaney had a 7.32 ERA in 35.2 frames with the Yanks, but has the tools to resurrect his career and the Dodgers are the perfect destination for him to try.

MLB: The MLB Draft League will embark on its second season with an expanded format. In 2022, each team will play 80 games as opposed to 68, and the schedule will be split into two halves with the first one expected to begin Thursday, June 2nd, and concluding Saturday, July 16. Amateur, draft-eligible players will be featured in the first half.

There will be a midseason break, and the second half will start on Friday, July 22nd, and finish Tuesday, Sept. 6th, with the league’s Championship Game. The second half will have professional players who have exhausted their amateur eligibility.

Lastly, the Yankees made a small addition yesterday, signing right-hander Vinny Nittoli. It’s almost undoubtedly a minor league contract, as the soon-to-be 31-year-old only just made his MLB debut in June of 2021 with the Mariners. That two-run outing remains his lone big league appearance to date, as he otherwise split last season between the Mariners’ and Twins’ Triple-A teams.