Boone: Bringing back DJ is 'No. 1 priority'

December 15th, 2020

Aaron Boone rose from behind the desk in his office at Yankee Stadium, apologizing for the interruption. His laptop running low, the Yankees manager searched through his belongings and produced a power cable. During the first virtual Winter Meetings, it is more important than ever to remain plugged in.

Like many, Boone is ready to turn the page on this year, looking ahead to 2021. The Yankees will again set their goals upon winning the American League East and chasing the 28th World Series championship in franchise history. How they get there remains very much a blank canvas.

Here are five hot topics from Boone's session with the media, which was conducted via Zoom on Tuesday morning:

1. 's free agency
What's what: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has said that he intends to re-sign LeMahieu, who is coming off consecutive seasons as the club's most valuable position player. The reigning AL batting champion, LeMahieu is reportedly seeking a five-year deal in the $100 million range. The gap between LeMahieu and the Yankees is believed to be wider than $25 million.

Boone: "Despite his quiet reputation, he's a tremendous leader for us and an influential person by the way he goes about things. I think it's no secret that he is probably our No. 1 priority to bring back this winter. I know Cash is working on that. Hopefully at the end of all this, DJ is a Yankee for a long time."

2. State of the rotation
What's what: With , and all having filed for free agency, the Yankees are seeking starting pitching to complement ace Gerrit Cole. If the season started today, New York's rotation would likely be comprised by some arrangement of Jordan Montgomery, Domingo Germán, Deivi García, Clarke Schmidt and Michael King, with Luis Severino expected to return from Tommy John surgery in June or July.

Boone: "We have good depth. Hopefully we're able to add to that bunch and even maybe see some more young guys emerge and put their names in there. We have a lot of good options, a lot of talented options. We'll see where the offseason goes as far as what we're able to add, to supplement that behind Gerrit."

3. 's recovery
What's what: Urshela had surgery earlier this month to remove a bone chip from his right elbow, an injury that began to affect him in August and required an injured list assignment in September. The third baseman is expected to recover within three months, according to the team. Urshela also recently revealed that he has recovered from COVID-19.

Boone: "Gio's going to be fine. He should be ready to go for Spring Training. Everything with the surgery went according to plan; it was exactly what they expected when they went in there, so I don't think it's going to be a big deal. He's rehabbing now in the New York area. We wanted him to go ahead and have it because we felt it was fairly minor."

4. ’s progress
What's what: Sánchez is one of several Yankees participating in the Dominican Winter League, currently playing for Toros del Este. Attempting to put the most frustrating season of his career in the rear-view mirror, Sánchez has batted .313 (5-for-16) with two doubles, two homers and six RBIs through five games in the Dominican Republic.

Boone: "Gary was really driving that, after having a difficult season and struggling in a shortened season. He just wanted more at-bats, and to his credit, he got after it and got himself ready to go down there. He's been able to get some regular at-bats. I was actually just in here watching a video -- he got a big hit in what looked like a pretty big emotional game. It's fun to see some reactions out of him."

5. ' conditioning
What's what: Cashman recently said that he did not believe Torres was in optimal condition for the restart of Summer Camp and spent a good portion of the 60-game season trying to get into shape. Cashman also indicated that he believes Torres is better suited to second base, though Torres is currently preparing to be the Yankees' Opening Day shortstop.

Boone: "Quarantine was a challenge for so many different people. I don't think he was up to speed like he was coming into Spring Training. As far as him being prepared and ready to go, I'm not concerned with that. I know what he does in the offseason, which has been consistent over the last few years. He's in excellent shape right now, working hard with his trainer and getting ready to start hitting. He's doing all his baseball things like he did last offseason."