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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 2/14/21

Key storylines to watch entering spring training; The race for the fifth starter spot could get heated; James Paxton returns to Seattle; Yankees taking a look at Justin Wilson.

Wild Card Game - Houston Astros v New York Yankees Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images | Joe Giglio: Here’s a rundown of some of the key storylines to keep an eye on when spring training opens up next week. Among the most important narratives include Corey Kluber’s health, Gleyber Torres’ work in the field at shortstop, as well as how Jameson Taillon’s stuff looks after a long layoff. | Bryan Hoch: In a mailbag, Hoch opines on the race for the Yankees’ fifth starter spot, provided Gerrit Cole, Kluber, Taillon, and Jordan Montgomery take the top four slots. Deivi García seems the obvious favorite, though Hoch warn that the Yankees could exercise some caution with the young right-hander, and that Domingo German may factor into the competition.

New York Daily News | Bradford William Davis: In case you missed it, the Yankees signed veteran outfielder Jay Bruce to a minor league deal. Bruce’s career has slipped into journeyman territory, flitting ineffectually between the Phillies, Mets, and Mariners over the past few seasons, but he can still put a charge into one on occasion. How this impacts the team’s pursuit of Brett Gardner is unclear.

MLB Trade Rumors | TJ Zencka: Speaking of Gardner, the Yankees could allocate the rest of their self-imposed budget on the veteran outfielder, but they also could still be looking at the relief market. Reports surfaced yesterday that the team had considered reuniting with Justin Wilson. The left-hander had a successful year in pinstripes back in 2015, and he’s coming off a solid two-season stretch with the Mets during which he managed a 143 ERA+.

And late last night, news broke that James Paxton signed with the Mariners on a one-year, $8.5-million deal, officially ending his two-year stint in New York. Paxton pitched very well in his first season with the Yankees, but struggled with injuries in 2020. Hopefully, Big Maple can turn things around back with his old team.