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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 4/18/23

Shohei Ohtani and the Angels come to town; Struggling Aaron Hicks still has route to playing time with Giancarlo Stanton hurt; DJ LeMahieu still feeling good as new; Yankees outright Colten Brewer to Triple-A

Los Angeles Angels v New York Yankees - Game Two Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

New York Post | Greg Joyce: The Angels come to town this week for the only time in 2023, which means it’s Yankee fans’ last chance to see Shohei Ohtani play ahead of his much-anticipated free agency next winter. The Yankees courted Ohtani over five years ago when he was first available to MLB teams, and pursued him at last year’s trade deadline. The two-way superstar will almost certainly command well in over $400 million, meaning another pursuit of Ohtani by the Bombers will have to be OK’d by Hal Steinbrenner. We’re still months from Ohtani hitting the market, and the Yankees don’t seem like the favorites to land him from here, but the team will surely check on him when the time comes. | Max Goodman: Aaron Hicks is starting to look like a lost cause, if he hasn’t already for about a year now. But with Giancarlo Stanton’s latest injury woes, there’s still a path to playing time for Hicks. The veteran can boast better defense than some of the Yankees’ other outfield options, like Franchy Cordero and Willie Calhoun. Even when Harrison Bader returns, it looks as though Hicks may cling to the Yankee roster, in spite of how woeful he’s been with the bat.

New York Post | Greg Joyce: DJ LeMahieu missed a few games last week with tightness in his quad, but the infielder says he feels good as new after returning over the weekend. “It was like one at-bat and I felt back to normal,” LeMahieu said after notching two hits including a homer during Sunday’s win over Minnesota. LeMahieu has hit the ball with authority, running a 145 OPS+ during this young season, and keeping him healthy is paramount to the Yankees’ lineup depth, particularly with Stanton injured again.

MLB Trade Rumors | Darragh McDonald: The Yankees have outrighted Colten Brewer to Triple-A. The right-hander had been designated for assignment last week, after using a lot of bullets in relief of Jhony Brito against the Twins. Brewer cleared waivers and is now ticketed for Scranton. MLBTR notes that it’s unclear whether Brewer has waived his right to refuse an outright assignment. Brewer has pitched 8.1 innings with the Yankees this year, allowing four runs with four strikeouts against three walks.

Baseball Prospectus | Rob Arthur: (subscription required) Arthur provides an update on an important leaguewide issue, the state of the juiced ball. He’s analyzed data from the season’s first few weeks of games and has concluded that the ball has less drag (and thus is carrying more) than it did last year, and appears to be extremely similar in terms of drag to the 2020 and 2021 baseball. It’s early, but the first returns on the properties of the ball often give us a very good idea of how the ball will play for the year. It’s fair to anticipate an easier path to homers for the Yankees, and the rest of the league, in 2023.