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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 2/20/22

Aaron Boone talks as lockout delays spring training; An interview with Brandon Lockridge; Why the MLBPA is so focused on service time manipulation

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

New York Post | Joel Sherman: As Aaron Boone patiently waits for his fifth spring training as Yankees manager to commence, the skipper took some time to discuss all things baseball-related with Joel Sherman — well, as many as he can, given the fact that he is not supposed to discuss current players during the lockout.

Although Sherman opens the piece with Boone’s comments on the notion that he is nothing but a “data applicator” and a puppet of the front office, most intriguing to me were his revelations about what the Yankees’ coaching staff has been up to. Unable to actively work on preparing the current roster for the 2022 season, the coaches have instead spent their time conducting research on in-game strategy and organizing “informational Zooms designed to increase knowledge” and allowing the team’s coaches (many of whom are new to the organization) to become better acquainted with the latest innovations in skill sets not their own.

Unfortunately for Boone, just like everyone else, none of this replaces what we all really want: the beginning of spring training.

NJ.com | Randy Miller: Ranked 19th among Yankees prospects by MLB Pipeline, 25-year-old outfielder Brandon Lockridge enters 2022 in a bit of a limbo after a breakout season with the Hudson Valley Renegades and Somerset Patriots; known primarily for his immense speed, he demonstrated real power in 2021, hitting 10 home runs in 43 games after his midseason promotion to Somerset. Despite this performance, however, Lockridge was not added to the 40-man roster back in November, which means that he will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft in the event that it happens after the lockout ends.

Speaking with NJ.com, Lockridge spoke about all these things and much more — comparisons to Brett Gardner, the outfield depth in the Yankees organization, his college transition from the infield to the outfield, and most importantly, shark fishing in Florida.

Boston Globe | Alex Speier: Yes, I know, this piece is from enemy territory, but every once in a while, the other side says something right. In this case, they use the case of Nick Pivetta to remind their readers why the Major League Baseball Players Association is so adamant about ending service time manipulation.

Quite often, we hear about service time manipulation in relation to elite players, with Kris Bryant, George Springer, Carlos Correa, and David Price among the players most frequently highlighted as most affected by the practice. While it is certainly unfair, however, these players don’t always draw much sympathy, because in the end, they still got their big contracts (or in the cases of Correa and Bryant, they will get once the lockout ends). The case of Pivetta, a pitcher with a career 5.16 ERA, reminds us that teams don’t just manipulate the service time of elite prospects they hope will be stars, but also the players who will spend their career on the roster bubble. In these cases, this manipulation might just rob a player of their ability to hit free agency at all.