Boone returns on 3-year contract, Yankees demand success

Sports

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone laughs before answering a question during a news conference at the American League Wild Card Workout Day at Fenway Park, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, before Tuesday’s American League Wild Card game against the Boston Red Sox in Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Boone will be back with the New York Yankees next year, their first manager since Miller Huggins in 1922 to return for a fifth season after failing to win a title during his first four.

“A manager is only as good as the players he’s got,” general manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday after announcing a three-year contract for Boone that contains a club option for 2025.

“If he was entering the free-agent market, I believe he’d be the number one managerial candidate in baseball,” Cashman said. “There’s a number of different vacancies, and we would be going to market looking for someone like him.”

Cashman and Boone held lengthy end-of-season news conferences, explaining the decision to fire third-base coach Phil Nevin, hitting coach Marcus Thames and assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere.

Boone had talked to Nevin about returning and said of getting rid of the trio: “That hurt, honestly.”

“That was one of the things I had to struggle through with for a couple days,” Boone said. “That was a tough couple days for me, honestly. I did have to, I guess, do some soul searching.”

A third-generation major leaguer who hit a pennant-winning home run for the Yankees in 2003, Boone led the team to a 328-218 record and four postseason appearances but just one AL East title.

“I think I can help lead us to the top. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I came back,” Boone said. “Ultimately, though, the proof will be in the pudding.”

Cashman revealed he is in the market for a shortstop to replace Gleyber Torres, who was moved to second base on Sept. 13. He also said right-hander Jameson Taillon will have ankle surgery next week and will not be 100% when spring training is scheduled to start.

“Bottom line, shortstop is an area of need,” Cashman said. “I think Gleyber is best served at second base.”

Cashman has been GM since 1998 and is signed to a five-year contract through 2022.

“Ultimately, it falls on me,” he said. “Obviously if (controlling owner) Hal Steinbrenner or anybody wants to decide to make some changes down the line, that’s above me.”

New York remains without a World Series appearance since winning the 2009 title under manager Joe Girardi — in the last full season before the death of George Steinbrenner, Hal’s father.

New York beat Oakland in the 2018 AL wild-card game and lost to rival Boston 3-1 in the Division Series, swept Minnesota in the 2019 Division Series and lost to Houston in a six-game Championship Series, swept Cleveland in the 2020 Wild-Card Series and lost to Tampa Bay in a five-game Division Series, and lost to the Red Sox in this year’s wild-card game.

“We want more and we expect more,” Cashman said.

Steinbrenner issued a statement insisting on progress.

“We have a person and manager in Aaron Boone who possesses the baseball acumen and widespread respect in our clubhouse to continue to guide us forward,” he said. “As a team and as an organization, we must grow, evolve and improve. We need to get better. Period.”

Boone, 48, was an All-Star third baseman and an ESPN broadcaster and had never managed when he was hired by the Yankees.

Boone’s grandfather, Ray, was a two-time All-Star infielder from 1948-60. His father, Bob, was a four-time All-Star catcher from 1972-90, then managed Kansas City from 1995-97 and Cincinnati from 2001-03. His brother, Bret, was a three-time All-Star second baseman in a big league career from 1992-2005.

New York was Major League Baseball’s streakiest team this season, with winning runs of 13, seven and six games, and two each of five and four, but also skids of seven, five and four of four.

Even after in-season moves to add Rougned Odor, Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo, Yankees left-handed batters were last in the majors with a .207 batting average, 26th in home runs with 53 and 28th in RBIs with 148. Their righties hit .249 with 169 homers and 518 RBIs.

“It was at times both unstoppable but many other times unwatchable,” Cashman said.

NOTES: INF DJ LeMahieu had sports hernia surgery performed on Oct. 12 by Dr. William C. Meyers in Philadelphia, and an eight-week recovery was projected. .., RHP Taillion is scheduled for right ankle tendon surgery on Oct. 28 with Dr. Justin K. Greisberg. Taillon will need about five months of recovery before throwing in games. … CF Aaron Hicks, rehabbing from May 26 surgery to repair a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, may play winter ball. … 1B Luke Voit does not need surgery on his left knee. … RHP Darren O’Day (left hamstring) should be ready by opening day. … OF Clint Frazier is speaking with the medical staff about his dizziness. … OF Tim Locastro (torn right ACL) should be ready by opening day.

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