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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 12/2/22

Judge looms over Winter Meetings; Cortes on joining Team USA; Pope meets Steinbrenner; A Hall of Famer and brief Yankee passes away

New York Yankees vs New York Mets Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images | Pete Caldera: It’s probably not surprising that folks expect superstar Aaron Judge to dictate much of what happens with the MLB offseason and the upcoming Winter Meetings. Despite lower-profile moves happening here and there (like the Rays signing Zach Eflin to a three-year deal last night), so much revolves around where Judge will land.

If the Yankees get their man, then that’s one domino and the rest of the market can move on to other notable names knowing that New York won’t press them quite as much. If Judge signs with the Giants or someone else though, then it might be a dang free-for-all because the Yankees are going to struggle to remain atop the AL East in 2023 without his production; they’ll have to replace it in some way. Trades and surprise signings could, of course, happen if Judge returns anyway, but the odds feel ever-higher if Judge departs. So many players, agents, and teams are thus in a bit of limbo until a decision is made.

Hopefully, the rumors about Judge settling his contract at the Winter Meetings are true. Limbo isn’t a blast (just ask Estragon and Vladimir). | Gary Phillips: As mentioned here a couple days ago, Nestor Cortes will play for Team USA at the 2023 World Baseball Classic. The All-Star discussed his excitement in a post on Instagram, detailing both his experiences watching the 2013 WBC at Marlins Park as a high school student and his desire to play in one at some point during his career. He had thought that it might happen with Team Cuba (where he was born, though he grew up in Miami), but he’s clearly ecstatic to pitch on an already-impressive USA ballclub that is looking to defend its 2017 title.

Brief interruption from the regular news because I don’t want to put this at the end, given the somber final story. But this needs to be mentioned somewhere because, well, the Pope met with Hal Steinbrenner. No, really:

Anyway. Normal stuff. | Chris Haft: The news this morning ends on a downer, as Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry has left us. The two-time Cy Young Award winner passed away on Thursday morning at age 84. The modern-day master of the spitter (or at least psychological warfare on the mound) spent a month and a half in pinstripes in 1980 for the eventual AL East champions, though it was just one late stop on the road of a helluva career.

Check out Matt Ferenchick’s story from yesterday on Perry’s brief foray in Yankees pinstripes.