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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 2/5/22

Bombers reluctant to move top prospects; Players call out MLB dishonesty; Aaron Judge’s healthy 2021; Yankees have deep pool of infield prospects; Prospect garnering Randy Johnson comparisons

Houston Astros v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

SNY | Andy Martino: At this point, most fans are aware of the Yankees’ needs heading into the next season. They do not have a full-time shortstop on the major league roster and Luke Voit’s health issues prevent him from being a reliable everyday first baseman. Because the team chose to stand pat prior to the lockout, the front office may face a mad scramble to fill out their roster between the ratification of the new CBA and the start of the season.

The most frequently reported routes for the Yankees to fill those areas involve a stopgap shortstop while waiting for prospects to graduate, and a potential trade for All-Star A’s first baseman Matt Olson. However, the former may preclude the latter. Martino reports that the Yankees were unwilling to trade either Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza for Olson prior to the lockout, and it’s possible that preference will remain once the lockout is lifted. He also reports that ownership is unlikely to approve another large contract with Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton on the books and an Aaron Judge extension pending. Taken together, these decisions seem to leave the organization with a perilously thin avenue to address its needs.

North Jersey Media Group | Pete Caldera: Owners are once again attempting to hijack the narrative of the lockout by asking for a federal mediator, insinuating that it’s the players who are holding up proceedings. This comes after a 43-day delay between instituting the lockout and the first bargaining session, and only four negotiations between MLB and MLBPA, culminating in MLB’s refusal to tender a counteroffer to the union on Thursday. The players called the owners’ bluff, rejecting the request for a mediator and pointing out the reality that the MLBPA has always been willing to sit down at the table.

Several current and former Yankees took to social media to cut through the league’s obfuscation of fact. Among them are Zack Britton — a member of the union’s eight-man executive subcommittee — and James Paxton. The message remains clear: Actions speak louder than words, and the owners’ refusal to negotiate leaves the league’s claim that a lockout will “jumpstart the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time,” ringing hollow.

MLB Trade Rumors | Sean Bavazzano: MLBTR reviewed the 15 players who dispelled injury concerns with healthy campaigns in 2021, and the Yankees’ trio of jumbo sluggers made the list. Judge played 148 games after missing 144 games across the previous three seasons. Stanton played 139 games after missing 184 games across the previous three seasons. Joey Gallo played 153 games after missing 109 games across the previous three seasons. All three logged above-average offensive seasons and figure to be the backbone of the team’s production in 2022. | Jim Callis: Thanks to a combination of player development and top spending in the international free agent market, the Yankees have an impressive pool of infield talent in their minor league system. Volpe, Peraza, Trey Sweeney, Roderick Arias, Oswaldo Cabrera, Alexander Vargas, and Hans Montero could all be impact major leaguers one day, leading some to wonder what the team’s plan is for the group. Callis speculates that we could see an infield of Volpe at second, Peraza at short, and Sweeney at third in the not-too-distant future.

YES Network | Eli Fishman: There’s a 17 year old prospect in the Yankees’ system who’s catching eyes and drawing comparisons to Randy Johnson. The 6-foot-7 lefty Henry Lalane has been given the nickname “Little Randy” given his resemblance to the Hall of Famer. He was signed in the 2021 IFA period out of the Dominican Republic and pitched to a 3.70 ERA with 39 strikeouts over 41.1 innings across 12 games in the Dominican Summer league in 2021. He throws a fastball in the low-90s, a changeup, and a curveball, and time will tell if he’s the next Big Unit.