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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 3/9/23

Montas was never fully healthy; no Yankees’ jersey patch lined up for Opening Day; Judge appears in left field, compliments Volpe, and is named to MLB: The Show 23 Diamond Club

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros
Frankie Montas answers questions prior to game one of the 2022 ALCS. He tossed just one inning in the series.
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

New York Post | Greg Joyce: Frankie Montas has looked shaky his entire tenure in pinstripes. During the 2022 regular season, he pitched to a 6.35 ERA and 4.93 FIP across 39.2 innings in the Bronx; in his lone playoff inning, he surrendered a homer. Meanwhile, a balky shoulder had forced him to miss 18 days just two weeks before the Yankees acquired him, and it recently prompted him to go under the knife. On Wednesday, Montas finally confirmed what many had surmised: he wasn’t 100 percent when the Yankees got him — the shoulder troubles were largely behind his poor results. In the same breath, the righty vowed to return this season, saying that while he wanted to impress his new team from the get-go, the surgery is what will truly enable him to do so going forward.

New York Post | Andrew Marchand: For the first time in MLB history, teams will be allowed to have corporate advertisements sewn onto players’ uniforms and printed onto batting helmets. Last March, the players’ union and MLB struck a deal to end the lockout, and within the agreement lies a provision enabling the advertising to start this season. Since this was made public, sponsors have been lining up to ink deals with clubs, but one squad with prime real estate has conspicuously held out: the Yankees.

Rumor has it that the Yankees are waiting because they know the value of their brand; they’re biding their time until the market develops so that they can sign a fair contract, and they’ve determined that it’s worth holding out into the 2023 season. That’s not to say that they definitely won’t sign a deal at all this year, but if they do, it likely won’t come until at least mid-way through the season. One sign that a deal is imminent could be if the Mets get their own agreement done; the Amazins have also held out, and their contract could serve as a good benchmark for a Yankees’ deal. Other points of reference can be found in the basketball world: the Knicks are seeking $30 million a year for a spot on their uniforms, reportedly in line with what the Nets currently earn from theirs.

Bryan Hoch | Pondering the state of the team while patrolling left field for the first time since 2016, captain Aaron Judge came prepared with his thoughts on Anthony Volpe during a postgame interview Wednesday. The young shortstop has the slugger’s endorsement, as Judge commended everything from Volpe’s plate approach to his speed. Judge himself concocted the left field plan, so it seems his captaincy is already influencing team strategy; it stands to reason that his rubber stamp could also improve Volpe’s chances of making the big league club out of spring training.

As for the left field test, its primary aim is to allow Giancarlo Stanton to man the other outfield corner, his natural position. Stanton had previously stated that he feels more focused when he plays on both sides of the ball; when he slots in at DH, he spends time swinging in the cage during the half inning when the Yankees are in the field, removed from the action and only becoming privy to it by the sounds of the TV. There might be something to his gripes, as studies have shown that there is a slight drop-off in offensive production when a hitter doesn’t play the field.

On Twitter Wednesday, the Yankees also honored their MLB: The Show 23 Diamond Club members. The Diamond Club consists of the 40 top-rated players in the popular video game. Judge, Gerrit Cole, and Carlos Rodón were selected for this year’s edition.