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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 5/31/23

Donaldson, Kahnle plan to return to Yankees in LA; Trevino back, Bader to IL; Hicks joins the O’s; Cortes on length; Ode to Judge’s glove; more former Yankee updates

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MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Baltimore Orioles
Forthcoming Orioles legend Aaron Hicks
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports | Matt Kardos: Three Yankees made rehab appearances with Double-A Somerset yesterday, and at least two of them seem like good bets to return to the bigs when the Yankees fly to Los Angeles on Friday for a weekend set with the Dodgers. Third baseman Josh Donaldson and reliever Tommy Kahnle have played in multiple rehab games over the past week and told Kardos that assuming all goes well in the next couple days, they plan to rejoin the Yankees in LA.

Giancarlo Stanton, however, was only in his first rehab game yesterday since hitting the IL with a hamstring strain in mid-April. He’ll probably need another rep or two before potential activation; the homestand next week against the White Sox and Red Sox feels like a distinct possibility.

Associated Press: Jose Trevino has already beaten that trio of teammates back, as the Yankees activated their primary catcher from the IL prior to last night’s game with third-stringer Ben Rortvedt optioned back to Triple-A. However, because all that above was too much good health news, the Yankees did have to place the surging Harrison Bader on the 10-day IL with a right hamstring strain. After the game, Aaron Boone said that he expects to Bader to miss “a few weeks.” The much-maligned Franchy Cordero has been recalled in his place, but with Donaldson and Stanton breathing down his neck, don’t expect him to be back for very long.

For PSA’s coverage of these injury updates, check out the story that Madison and I worked on last night. (Also, per’s Bryan Hoch, look for Anthony Rizzo to return from his stiff neck tonight or Friday in LA, after the offday.)

Newsday | Erik Boland: When the Yankees drafted Aaron Judge in 2013, all eyes were on his powerful bat, but the organization rated him as a good defender as well. They saw him man center for Fresno State quite a bit and were impressed. Still, scouting director Damon Oppenheimer admitted that even they didn’t think that he would be this great (80 grade on their scale) with the glove, which was on display on Monday when he robbed Teoscar Hernández of a homer. Judge tried to play it off, but who are we kidding? He’s a tremendous all-around player.

The Athletic | Chris Kirschner: This one’s behind a paywall but worth it if you have an Athletic subscription. Nestor Cortes has been struggling with his third time through the order and lasting deep into starts. That trend continued again last night, as while he won, he labored to reach 101 pitches in just five innings. Cortes discussed these recent chronic difficulties with Kirschner and tried to come up with some possible explanations.

Rapid-Fire Updates on Former Yankees

  • MLB Trade Rumors | Darragh McDonald: The top story is that Aaron Hicks has jumped to an AL East rival. The Orioles had to put Cedric Mullins on the IL after the outfielder suffered an abductor/groin strain, so they signed the recently-released Hicks yesterday afternoon, though he did not play last night. The O’s only have to pay him the league minimum, as the Yankees are obviously still on the hook for the $27.6 million remaining on his contract.
  • | AJ Cassavell: Gary Sánchez’s Mets career might have been brief, but he’s found a new major league home. The Padres have deeply struggled to find production behind the plate, so they claimed Sánchez off waivers. They will be his third organization in a matter of just a couple months (he started the year with the Giants but wasn’t promoted from Triple-A and signed with the Mets a week later). He went 1-for-4 in his Padres debut.
  • Associated Press: Luke Voit was designated for assignment by the Brewers. As a defensively limited player, his career might be in jeopardy, as he slumped to a 53 OPS+ and no homers in 22 games after catching on with them in spring training. The 32-year-old Voit made the Opening Day roster but never got hot at all.
  • MLB Trade Rumors | Darragh McDonald: One more from MLBTR, add southpaw Lucas Luetge to the DFA crew as well. The Yankees themselves designated the 2021-22 reliever when they signed Kahnle, ultimately dealing him to the Braves for a couple minor leaguers. Luetge spent time on the IL with a biceps injury and had a 10.24 ERA in nine games for Atlanta, so they’ve let him go in order to call up prospect AJ Smith-Shawver.