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Around the Empire: Yankees News - 4/1/19

Yankees may use an opener; Hicks yet to resume baseball activities; Red Sox ink shortstop Xander Bogaerts to seven-year contract extension.

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

New York Post | George A. King: The Yankees are down two starters to start the season, with Luis Severino and CC Sabathia both on the IL (well, technically Sabathia is suspended for the first five games). As such, after Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ’s season debuts, Aaron Boone may opt to start one of Chad Green or Jonathan Holder on Monday against Detroit, with Domingo German handling the middle innings, King writes. The situation isn’t ideal, but then again, Green and Holder are very solid in their own right, and the Tigers don’t have an especially scary lineup. This has the potential to work out just fine.

New York Daily News | Kristie Ackert: Speaking of Yankees on the IL, Hicks still hasn’t resumed baseball activities after he was sidelined due to back stiffness during spring training. The newly-extended outfielder has since received cortisone shots and is working out. It sounds like the Yankees are treating Hicks’ injury very cautiously, which is obviously preferable to rushing him back. Here’s hoping the on-field players can hold the fort down while Hicks recovers. | Brendan Kuty: In his bid to trade Sonny Gray away last offseason, Brian Cashman said that whoever received him would get the pitcher Cashman thought he was getting. That wasn’t apparent in Gray’s first start for the Reds, as he was knocked out after just 2.2 innings, having allowed three runs (two earned) on four walks and five hits. Gray still has plenty of time to make Yankee fans regret seeing him go, but as of now, this fan isn’t losing any sleep.

New York Post | Joseph Staszewski: Extension season has spilled over into the regular season, as the rival Red Sox have inked 26-year-old shortstop Xander Bogaerts to a seven-year, $132 million deal. The move further thins out next winter’s free agent market after this offseason’s ice-cold hot stove. It also could turn the volume up a bit more on the murmurs that suggest the Yankees should consider extending more of their young stars, like Aaron Judge, or even their currently-injured shortstop, Didi Gregorius.

New York Daily News | Bill Madden: Move over, PECOTA, Steamer, ZiPS and the like; Bill Madden’s 2019 MLB predictions are out. As for the American League East, Madden sees the Yankees snatching the division crown from the Red Sox due to three main factors: their overpowering bullpen, a breakout season from Luis Cessa, and Luke Voit hitting 35 bombs. While I doubt that Cessa is going to have an out-sized impact on the Yankees’ playoff hopes, it would certainly be nice if he surprised during Severino and Sabathia’s absences. Meanwhile, the other two components of Madden’s AL East prediction seem distinctly plausible.