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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 3/19/22

Luke Voit sent to San Diego; Aaron Boone believes a big bounce back is on the way for Anthony Rizzo; why the Yankees were happy to take on $50 million for Josh Donaldson; NYC vaccine mandate to remain in place

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MLB: San Diego Padres at New York Yankees Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports | AJ Cassavell: The Yankees traded Luke Voit yesterday as the long-awaited other shoe finally dropped. Voit never seemed long for this team, and the Yankees saw fit to get what they could for their erstwhile starting first baseman. He should fit well on his new roster; the Padres have Eric Hosmer at first base, but no obvious DH. For the Yankees’ part, they were able recoup the 34th pick in the 2020 Draft, Justin Lange. The young right-hander ranked inside the Padres’ top-ten prospects prior to the trade, and represents another talented project for the Yankees’ minor league player development team to work on.

New York Post | Nolan Hicks: Ashwin Vasan, New York City’s health commissioner, said that the city’s vaccine mandate for public and private employees would remain in place for an indefinite amount of time. Aaron Judge, who dodged a recent question about COVID vaccination, is widely rumored to not have been vaccinated. We’re three weeks from Opening Day, and it’s unclear if the Yankees’ best player will be able to play in most of their games. | Brendan Kuty: Anthony Volpe has impressed the Yankees’ major league coaches at camp this year, and Aaron Boone actually likened Volpe to Judge. No, the 5-foot-11 shortstop prospect doesn’t bear much of a physical resemblance to the current Yankee superstar, but Boone cited the way “He’s dedicated to the finer things, the smaller things” as a parallel between Volpe and Judge. Volpe certainly has shown an ability to improve, as the 20-year-old showed up for last season looking like a different player than the one the Yankees drafted in 2019. If he can continue to refine his game, he’ll be in the Bronx very soon. | Mark Feinsand: The Yankees brought back Anthony Rizzo this week, widely seen as a safe and underwhelming move. Boone sounds like he would quibble with the assessment, as the manager believes Rizzo has potential to produce at a much higher level than he did for the Yankees in 2021. “I fully expect that Anthony has a really good shot at having a year that’s been in line with what he’s done in his career,” Boone said of the first baseman, who posted a serviceable .768 OPS with New York last year. Rizzo was one of the most feared lefty swingers in the game as recently as 2019, so here’s hoping Boone is right.

The Athletic | Ken Rosenthal (subscription required): Rosenthal discusses some of the Yankees’ reasoning behind the Josh Donaldson trade. Some questioned the team’s decision to absorb all $50 million due to the 36-year-old, but Rosenthal points to the fact that Donaldson played 135 games last year and 155 in 2019, the last two full seasons, as reason to think Donaldson can and will stay healthy and produce. Team brass also reportedly likes that Donaldson could bring some edge to what’s typically a straight-laced Yankee clubhouse.