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

Yankees name Aaron Judge captain; Carlos Rodón press conference today; Junior Fernández, Lucas Luetge DFA’d; how pitchers can tackle the pitch clock.

Aaron Judge Press Conference Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images | Bryan Hoch: The New York Yankees formally re-introduced superstar outfielder Aaron Judge yesterday morning at Yankee Stadium, as the slugger officially re-signed with the team that drafted him. As part of those proceedings, Hal Steinbrenner made official what everybody anticipated when the news of his nine-year deal broke two weeks ago, naming Aaron Judge the 16th captain of the New York Yankees. “I was kind of lost for words,” the new captain said when asked about the honor, noting that Steinbrenner had first told him during their 3:00 am phone call in which the two hammered out the deal.

MLB Trade Rumors | Anthony Franco: One week ago today, reports indicated that Carlos Rodón was headed to the Bronx on a six-year, $162 million deal. Yesterday, that news became official, and today at 10 am ET, there will be another press conference. That leaves just one more free agent acquisition (Tommy Kahnle) reported but not yet official, although Brian Cashman, Hal Steinbrenner, and even Aaron Judge all hinted at more moves coming during yesterday’s press conference.

MLB Trade Rumors | Darragh McDonald: In order to add Carlos Rodón to the roster, the Yankees needed to create a roster spot, and they did that by designating Junior Fernández for assignment. Claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates back in November, Fernández represented the first move the team made this winter to replace the departing Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman in free agency. Barring something unforeseen, however, the right-handed reliever will join the ghost team as a player technically added to the Yankees roster but who never actually joined the team.

Sports Illustrated | Gary Phillips: The Yankees also officially announced the signing of reliever Tommy Kahnle yesterday. A fan favorite during his previous stint in the Bronx, ““Tommy Tightpants” spent the last two seasons in Los Angeles with the Dodgers (although he spent the majority of that time rehabbing from injuries) before becoming the Yankees’ first external free agent signing of the winter. Unfortunately, to clear room on the 40-man roster, the Yankees departed with another fan favorite, Lucas Luetge. | Anthony Castrovince: The 2023 season brings with it a pair of rule changes intended to inject more action into the game, the pitch clock and the shift ban. While it’s unclear how teams will adjust to the defense being required to have two fielders on the infield dirt on each side of the second base bag, the 15-second pitch clock (20 seconds with a runner on base) has been tested in the minor leagues. Although many pitchers expect to struggle with the adjustment, which subtracted 25 minutes on average in the minors this past season, the league’s “fast workers” — which include Yankees starter Nestor Cortes — provide a blueprint for success. Among the keys to that success? Good old-fashioned conditioning, apparently.