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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 1/31/22

MLBPA to make proposal to owners today; spring training and Opening Day are in doubt; four ways the Yankees could use DJ LeMahieu; Austin Wells working to stay behind the plate

World Series - Atlanta Braves v Houston Astros - Game One Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Sports Illustrated | Chris Halicke: The Major League Baseball Players’ Association will meet with league officials later today to continue negotiations for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. The players are expected to present their next counterproposal, an offer that is expected to make additional concessions in an attempt to forge a compromise and avoid losing any games. Of course, the onus is on team ownership to actually engage in good faith negotiations and actually be willing to compromise in a meaningful way.

This is an important week for the league, as the intended start date for spring training is rapidly approaching — if serious progress is not made soon, Opening Day will be in danger.

Forbes | Maury Brown: But don’t take my word for it. Tomorrow is February 1st. Pitchers and catchers are supposed to report, for most teams, on February 16th. Assuming that an agreement is reached today or tomorrow — extraordinarily unlikely — that leaves just over two weeks for teams to finalize free agent signings, complete arbitration hearings, negotiate trades, and generally complete the business of the offseason. Two weeks is the minimum amount of time that most believe all this business will take.

At this point, both sides will want to be able to claim some level of victory in order for an agreement to be reached, with players able to point to concrete improvements over the last CBA and owners able to claim they didn’t give in to the union. This will require creativity as they negotiate. Creativity can take time — such as the six weeks that ownership sat at the start of the lockout before making a proposal. This loss of time is why spring training is in danger. | Brendan Kuty: The Yankees have a DJ LeMahieu problem — namely, what to do with the infielder, who struggled in 2021 but has on the whole been one of the best leadoff hitters since the start of 2019. With holes at first base and shortstop, there are four different ways the Yankees could use LeMahieu: at his natural position (second base), as the third baseman (either trading Gio Urshela or moving him to short), as the first baseman (moving on from Luke Voit and Anthony Rizzo and not acquiring Freddie Freeman), and — probably the most likely — as a utility infielder who plays every day.

FanGraphs | David Laurila: Ranked 15th on FanGraphs’ list of Yankees top prospects, catcher Austin Wells is primarily known for his bat, not for his glove. Because of that, many scouts expect he will end up in the outfield to get his bat in the majors sooner rather than later. Despite that, the 6-foot-2, 220 pound backstop intends to stay at the position, working hard on his “receiving and framing” to find success at the position.