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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 5/21/22

Projecting Aaron Judge’s free agent market; Nestor Cortes’ improbable rise; Giancarlo Stanton topping leaderboards; Yankees anchored by their bullpen; Chad Green, Luis Gil suffer “significant” arm injuries; Roger Angell passes

New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

ESPN | Kiley McDaniel (subscription required): When Aaron Judge turned down the Yankees’ seven-year, $213.5 million extension offer prior to the start of the season, it represented a massive bet that he could produce a dynamite walk year performance that would push his earning power into a new stratosphere. We’re through the first quarter of the season, and to say that gamble is paying off would be an understatement. Judge is playing like a top-three player in baseball, leading the league in home runs with 14.

So what does this all mean for his free agency case? There just aren’t many comps to project the kind of contract he could land. On one hand he’s a big-bodied outfielder on the wrong side of 30 with significant injuries in his past. On the other, if he keeps up this pace it will be arguably the greatest walk year performance ever, from one of the game’s most marketable stars. McDaniel sees the deals signed by Nolan Arenado and Anthony Rendon as the likeliest benchmarks for Judge’s market, and identifies the Yankees and Mets as his likeliest suitors. While he didn’t name an exact figure, McDaniel concluded that an eight-year deal in the $250-300 million range would probably get the deal done.

The Washington Post | Adam Kilgore: Nestor Cortes’ rise from outright and DFA candidate to co-ace of the Yankees starting rotation has been nothing short of miraculous. Entering this season, Cortes was unsure if he’d even have a spot on the roster. Kilgore takes us through the lefty’s journey from being drafted by the Yankees in the 36th round of the 2013 MLB Draft to owning the lowest ERA among qualified starters at the quarter pole of the 2022 season.

In the words of Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake, Cortes is a unique blend of old-school craft, guile, and deceptiveness as well as the ideal analytically-crafted pitcher in the modern game. But most importantly, Cortes’ tireless work ethic and malleability to reinvent himself are what made him the star pitcher he is today. | Andrew Simon: Everyone and their mother knows Giancarlo Stanton hits the ball hard. He accounts for half of the entries on the top-20 home run exit velocity leaderboard and has been responsible for the hardest hit ball in baseball every year in the Statcast era. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that he also fills up the exit velocity leaderboard for singles.

Stanton’s unmatched exit velocity gives him a wider margin of error than any other player, allowing groundballs to escape the infield and line drives to fall before outfielders have a chance to react. This is hardly groundbreaking stuff — if you hit the ball harder than anyone else in baseball, chances are your hits — be they homers or singles — will top the exit velocity leaderboard.

Yahoo! Sports | Zach Crizer: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Yankee bullpen is good. Really good. Much of the Yankees’ success through the first quarter of the season owes to the shutdown performances of their relievers. This is made all the more impressive for two reasons. First, their closer Aroldis Chapman and best reliever of 2021 Jonathan Loáisiga have stumbled out of the gate while Zack Britton remains sidelined recovering from Tommy John surgery. Second, they’ve built the bullpen on the fly, transforming former replacement-level relievers Michael King and Clay Holmes in the best and sixth-best relievers respectively in MLB in 2022.

NJ Advance Media | Randy Miller: The Yankees have amazingly managed to avoid the injury bug that has so plagued the franchise in recent years. That is, until this week. On Thursday, Chad Green was forced out of the game against the Orioles in the sixth inning with forearm discomfort. Aaron Boone referred to the injury as “significant.”

New York Post | Christopher Scarglato: And elsewhere on the injury front, it was reported that Luis Gil will require Tommy John surgery. The promising right-hander exited a start on Wednesday, motioning to his elbow in the process (never a great sign). Gil took to Twitter to affirm to fans that he’ll back, despite the tough setback.

Lastly, the baseball world suffered a great loss yesterday when the world learned that centenarian author Roger Angell had passed away at age-101. The longtime New Yorker essayist wrote some of the baseball books ever to be published (“The Summer Game,” “Five Seasons,” and “A Pitcher’s Story” with David Cone, just to name a few), and was writing about baseball into his late-nineties, chronicling the Yankees’ 2017 postseason run along the way. To say that his prose will be missed is an understatement.