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

The 2017 “Yankees Letter” is to be unsealed; time for an Aaron Judge extension; Yanks knew Ben Rortvedt was injured when they brought him in; Brian Cashman defends shortstop decision.

Yankee Stadium Street Scenes Set Number: X163242 TK1 | Brendan Kuty: A federal appeals court has upheld a decision to unseal a letter from Rob Manfred to Brian Cashman that allegedly shows that Major League Baseball covered up the extent of the Yankees’ actions during the 2017 Apple Watch scandal. Randy Levine and the Yankees have argued that, because the Yankees were not a named party in the original lawsuit — DraftKings users sued MLB, the Red Sox, and the Astros over the sign-stealing scandals that they claimed ruined the integrity of their bets, but not the Yankees — the letter should not have been introduced to the court in the first place. The team claims that the contents of the letter will damage the team’s reputation.

According to the judge, who has actually seen the letter, there is no reason to keep it sealed, as its contents are already public knowledge.

New York Post | Joel Sherman: By most accounts, the Yankees have had a lackluster winter, as they looked at a free agent class that happened to be historically strong at their position of greatest need and decided to fill it with a stopgap, all while the rest of the division made moves that make them stronger (at least on paper). Much of their reluctance to get in on the action has been a reluctance to have four players with large salaries signed to long-term deals. The only problem with that concern, however, is the math: only Giancarlo Stanton and Gerrit Cole currently fit that description. Clearly, the team considers an Aaron Judge extension to be a foregone conclusion, but until he signs on the dotted line, anything can happen; just ask Freddie Freeman and the Atlanta Braves.

It’s time for Hal Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman, and the Yankees to get these negotiations moving, and at a quicker pace than ownership approached the lockout. According to reports, they are preparing to present Judge with an offer by the end of the week — a good omen, since the clock is ticking towards Judge’s Opening Day deadline.

Sports Illustrated | Gary Phillips: Apparently, when the Yankees acquired catcher Ben Rortvedt from the Minnesota Twins in Josh Donaldson trade, they were aware that he was dealing with a light oblique strain. Because oblique injuries are tricky, it’s quite possible that he won’t be ready for Opening Day, which will make the task of learning the Yankees pitching staff in a short amount of time more difficult than initially expected.

New York Post | Dan Martin: General manager Brian Cashman spoke to the media yesterday, defending the team’s moves to address the team’s needs this winter. Although acknowledging that he stayed in touch with Carlos Correa’s and Trevor Story’s camps throughout the process, he said that ultimately they decided “to attack what was available...and once we pulled those down, it closed doors on other things.” In the process, he highlighted the team’s payroll (which he said was the highest in team history) and expressed confidence in Isiah Kiner-Falefa; he declined to comment on the vaccination status of any player, however, which is arguably more important than who is playing shortstop, the size of the payroll, or anything else, really.