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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 1/9/24

Yanks’ newest hitting coach worked with Juan Soto already; predictions for the remainder of the offseason; Yanks add Kevin Smith to contend for utility role; remembering former Yankee Billy Gardner

MLB: JUL 20 Nationals at Orioles Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

NY Daily News | Gary Phillips ($): The Yankees are finalizing their staff after adding James Rowson as their new hitting coach, and one of the assistants that they’re bringing in under him is Pat Roessler. Roessler has a lot of history with the club, working in player development from 2005-2014, but more significantly to the current team is the fact that Roessler was the Nationals’ assistant hitting coach from 2020 until this past season, giving him some prior experience with the team’s newest star Juan Soto.

CBS Sports | R.J. Anderson: We’re only partway through with the offseason and there’s still so many free agents left on the board, so new rounds of landing spot predictions are naturally going to be coming. R.J. takes a crack at it here, and predicts Blake Snell to the Bronx among the top remaining names. Considering the team’s commitment to getting an upgrade at the position and their interest in the rest of the field, it’s not an unlikely pick — and at least it wouldn’t be whatever is going on with Marcus Stroman.

NJ.com | Randy Miller: There haven’t been many splashy signings, but the Yankees are adding to their stockpile of guys with minor league deals and invites to spring training. Kevin Smith is the latest of the bunch, and he’ll be in camp to compete for the utilityman job with the Oswald(o)s Peraza and Cabrera. Smith was a solid power bat in 2023, though most of his long balls were found in Triple-A rather than when he suited up for Oakland.

Star Tribune | Joel Rippel: Finally, we end on a somber note with the passing of Billy Gardner. Gardner was 96 years old, and won a ring as part of the championship 1961 Yankees squad that witnessed the M&M brothers chase history. He played 41 games as a backup infielder and was on the squad in October; he was traded to the Red Sox early the next year but was technically on the ‘62 World Series winners as well. Following a 10-year career, Gardner went into the coaching ranks and spent four years managing the Twins from 1981-85, helping mold the eventual 1987 & 1991 champions that won under Tom Kelly. Our condolences go out to his family.