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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 2/16/21

Yankees sign Justin Wilson, Robinson Chirinos; Josh Breaux a breakout candidate; Aaron Hicks named MLB’s most underrated center fielder

Second New York Yankees Minor Leaguer Has Tested Positive for Coronavirus Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Yahoo! Sports | Garrett Stepien: The Yankees signed lefty reliever Justin Wilson to a one-year, $4 million contract last night. A member of the Mets bullpen the last two seasons, Wilson spent the 2015 season with the Yankees, having been acquired in exchange for Francisco Cervelli, before being flipped himself to the Detroit Tigers for Chad Green and Luis Cessa. (If you haven’t checked out Josh’s analysis of Wilson’s return, it’s worth a look as well.)

Twitter | Ken Rosenthal: The Yankees also came to terms with Robinson Chirinos to provide some catching depth on a minor league contract. Andrew has the details, but the short version is that Chirinos will likely only make the roster if Gary Sánchez or Kyle Higashioka suffers an injury. | Anthony Castrovince: published this week it’s annual All-Underrated team, consisting of players who did not make their Top 10 position lists. Since the Yankees were well-represented on those lists (Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu, Gerrit Cole, Gio Urshela, Luke Voit, Clint Frazier, and Aroldis Chapman), there weren’t that many opportunities for them on this list. Nonetheless, Aaron Hicks finds himself named the most underrated center fielder, with Castrovince citing his .824 OPS over the last four years, behind only Mike Trout, Charlie Blackmon, and George Springer among center fielders.

ESPN+ | Kiley McDaniel: (ESPN+ account required) As part of an annual effort on ESPN to profile the best up-and-coming players in the game, McDaniel identifies one breakout candidate within each team’s list of prospects. For the Yankees, that would be catcher Josh Breaux, the team’s high-upsidem but raw catching prospect who had a 70-grade arm behind the plate and 70-grade power. Despite his short track record, McDaniel believes that Breaux could put himself into the conversation to be the Yankees’ catcher of the future with a strong 2021.

Interestingly, Breaux was not the only Yankees prospect to make the list. Garrett Whitlock, who the Boston Red Sox took in this past Rule 5 Draft, also did, noting that he represents an intriguing bounce-back candidate after being two years removed from his 2019 Tommy John surgery. If the Red Sox don’t keep Whitlock on their roster all year, then he will return to the Bronx.

New York Post | Joel Sherman: The last few years have seen the Yankees feature a “type” when it comes to acquiring pitchers via trade: under 30, with high upside that has not yet been tapped into (typically due to injuries), and with multiple years of team control. Last month’s trade for Jameson Taillon fits perfectly into this mold. This time, however, the team hopes that it turns out better than the similar pitchers the team has acquired in the past: Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, James Paxton, Sonny Gray, Jeff Weaver, and Javier Vázquez (Part One).