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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 3/16/22

Rizzo to Yanks; Vaccine mandate could cause long-term absences; Judge won’t discuss midyear extension; Astros back in on Correa; Andújar addresses attack; Federal judge rules in favor of minor leaguers

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Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

ESPN: The big news from late last night was that Anthony Rizzo would be returning to the Yankees on a two-year, $32 million contract. That answers the question of who will play first base for Aaron Boone’s ballclub in 2022. We have more details on the signing in our live reaction here.

New York Daily News | Stefan Bondy and Dennis Young: Unvaccinated Yankees may be ineligible to play at home. According to a City Hall spokesperson, the private sector mandate enacted under the previous administration bars unvaccinated people from working in the City. Kyrie Irving has been the most visible athlete impacted by this mandate, but with baseball returning, further players could be ruled out.

It’s been reported that two (or three) Yankees remain unvaccinated, with all of the media attention focusing in on Aaron Judge after his dodgy response to questions regarding his vaccination status. Between games at Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, and Rogers Centre in Toronto, unvaccinated players could miss more than half the season should the mandate stay in place and City Hall not grant an exemption. The Yankees have said that team president Randy Levine is “working with City Hall” and will not comment further.

MLB.com | Bryan Hoch: Speaking of Judge, he sat down with Bryan Hoch to discuss his future with the team. He hopes to remain in pinstripes for the rest of his career and would like to resolve any possible contract extension prior to Opening Day. However, he revealed that he will not consider a midseason extension, as he sees such talks as a distraction. The Yankees have yet to engage their star right fielder in long-term contract negotiations, but do plan to sit down with him prior to the April 7th home opener against the Red Sox.

MLB Trade Rumors | Steve Adams: The Yankees may see recent acquisition Isiah Kiner-Falefa as the team’s starting shortstop, however if they still feel compelled to upgrade the position, they’ll have to act fast. Carlos Correa remains unsigned, but that could change soon, as the Astros are renewing the pursuit of their former player. They plan on tendering another offer after he rejected their five-year, $160 million offer in November. He has already rejected a 10-year, $275 million offer from the Tigers this offseason and is still looking to top the 10 years and $325 million given by the Rangers to Corey Seager.

New York Post | Greg Joyce: Last week, Miguel Andújar was the victim of a scary assault and robbery at gunpoint on his farm in the Dominican Republic. Thankfully, he escaped serious harm and arrived at spring training yesterday. He spoke briefly on the episode, but maintains that his focus is on his job and his team. Andújar has missed significant chunks of the last three seasons to injury after his breakout rookie campaign of 2018 and will get looks at third, first, and the outfield as he fights for a bench role this season.

The Athletic | Evan Drellich (subscription required): Late yesterday, federal judge Joe Spero of the Northern District of California ruled that minor leaguers are considered year-round employees, with MLB as one of their joint employers. This ruling was a victory for the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit originally filed in 2014 by minor league players seeking damages for alleged violations of wage laws by MLB and minor league clubs. Judge Spero substantiated the players’ entitlement to $1,882,650, and more potentially to come with the case set to go to trial in June.