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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 2/13/21

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Yankees release Ben Heller; conflicting reports on Brett Gardner’s return; Derek Jeter won’t receive a public Hall of Fame induction ceremony; minor leagues organized

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

AP: Only a couple of days after designating him for assignment to open up a spot for reliever Darren O’Day, the Yankees decided to release right-hander Ben Heller. He was never able to establish himself as a dependable contributor from the ‘pen despite pitching in four different seasons with the organization, but there is talent in his arm and he should find another opportunity relatively soon. In fact, he owns a career 2.59 ERA in 31 relief appearances, albeit with a 5.57 FIP. In 2020, he pitched in six games, with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP, though he battled a biceps injury at the end of the season.

Twitter | Jim Bowden: The Yankees have had some contact with Brett Gardner’s camp during the offseason, to the contrary of what was reported a couple days ago by NJ.com’s Randy Miller. For the record, Bowden said that the Bombers want to bring back their longtime outfielder “at the right price point,” whatever that means.

National Baseball Hall of Fame: Because of safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Baseball Hall of Fame decided that the 2021 Hall of Fame Classic Weekend and Induction Weekend events an have been canceled. Other activities, like the Classic legends game, the Classic Weekend’s Night at the Museum meet-and-greet, the BASE Race and the Cooperstown Classic Clinic have also been called off. “Though we are having to cancel our 2021 Hall of Fame Classic Weekend, the Hall of Fame is maintaining its commitment to hold an Induction Ceremony on July 25,” said Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Derek Jeter, Marvin Miller, Ted Simmons, and Larry Walker will thus be inducted in a private ceremony in July.

MiLB.com: Lastly, the Minor League Baseball team organization was officially announced yesterday. The Yankees’ four full-season ball affiliates — Scranton, Somerset, Hudson Valley, and Tampa — will be in the following divisions (which will likely be renamed to their super generic names at some point):