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Winter Meetings interview with Aaron Boone

MLB.com

Q. Aaron, can you talk about what your dad has mentioned as far as what you've learned?

AARON BOONE: I would say he's been the biggest influence on me in my life, just as a person, as a man, as a ballplayer, now as I go into this role. So he's always somebody that, you know, that I seek wisdom from, that has always poured into me. We've always had a very close relationship since growing up.

Q. Aaron, can you talk about what your dad has mentioned as far as what you've learned?

AARON BOONE: I would say he's been the biggest influence on me in my life, just as a person, as a man, as a ballplayer, now as I go into this role. So he's always somebody that, you know, that I seek wisdom from, that has always poured into me. We've always had a very close relationship since growing up.

So I'm sure, like many people out there, he's my dad and someone that I look up to and really admire. He'll be someone that I always confide in and certainly seek out his advice.

Q. He said he got very emotional when you told him you're going to be the manager of the Yankees. He cries a lot.

AARON BOONE: He's starting to cry in his old age a lot more. When I told him, laughter turned into some tears. He's, I think, pretty excited, obviously, for this opportunity.

Q. Any advice from him that he helped you with so far?

AARON BOONE: No. He'll get -- he and my mom will come over at Christmastime, and I know he's going to want to sit me down on the couch and give some words of wisdom about things that are important to him. I'll take in all advice and filter some of it, like I do with everyone else.

Q. Aaron, looking at second and third, would you be comfortable with two kids?

AARON BOONE: Obviously, that's something we're still working on here is addressing issues we still have on our roster. I'm very comfortable with who we have in our system and the depth that we built up in the system and guys that are, frankly, either knocking on the door or ready to play major roles from the start. We'll just have to kind of see how the next couple months play out. There's still time between now and then.

I'm certainly comfortable with the talent level that's about ready to go. Whether we give them some time kind of depends on what moves we make or don't make here in the coming months.

Q. What do you know about Gleyber Torres?

AARON BOONE: Just really excited to be around -- I think what's exciting about our team is obviously just the young talent that's there, the passion that these guys play with. But as I've talked a lot about, these are real high character guys, guys you want to be around, guys that are going to impact our clubhouse in a positive way.

All accounts on Gleyber is he's that guy. Whether he's impacting our club from jump street, again, remains to be seen. But I'm really excited about his long-term future with us. He's another in the long line of, we think, special players for us at some point.

Q. Have you had a chance to talk to him at some point?

AARON BOONE: I have not. I think he went back to Venezuela yesterday, and I texted with him today, but I have not heard from him. I think he'll be back early next month down in Tampa. I hope to see him down there.

Q. What was it about Cashman -- I mean, he had to hire you, but you also had to accept and feel a comfort level there. What was it about Brian and the way he described the team moving forward that you felt so comfortable with?

AARON BOONE: I think one of the things that I think most of you guys appreciate about Brian is the same for me, and that's how direct he is. How honest he is. Obviously, his reputation and his track record in the game, I think, speaks for itself. The longevity he's had.

And I think what's really stood out to me through this process and something that's exciting to me is, for being the New York Yankees, this is a very cohesive, stable situation. There's a lot of continuity within our front office right now, and I've gotten an inside look at it now these last few days. And certainly being here in our meetings, just how efficient I feel like things are run and kind of the loyalty that exists across the board in our room.

Q. Aaron, are you looking forward to the Red Sox rivalry again? What do you think the reaction might be to you, seeing you in a Yankee uniform again?

AARON BOONE: Of course I'm looking forward to it. Obviously, it's a team, it's an organization that we have a lot of respect for. Obviously, they're going to have another great team this year. I know Alex really well now, so us getting this opportunity is something I think we're both looking forward to.

But, yeah, that -- when you can play impactful games -- and hopefully we are playing impactful games against them late in the season -- that's always something you look forward to, to be able to play on these kinds of stages is why you do it.

Q. Sanchez will be in New York. Are you staying around to talk to him?

AARON BOONE: Yeah, he should be in New York this weekend. We've been texting back and forth, and my plan, my hope is to get together with him very casually at some point this weekend. Again, I've talked to you guys a lot about relationships, and obviously, my relationship with Gary is something that I put a real high value on.

Q. What do you most want to impress upon him while you're trying to build that relationship?

AARON BOONE: Right now just getting to know each other. Look, catcher in Major League Baseball, it's a demanding position. It's such an important position, and it's a chance to impact like no other position on the field with things that don't necessarily show up in the stat column. Obviously, he's a tremendous talent. He's already had massive success as a young player. So just building that relationship, gaining that trust, and letting him know that he's going to be very well supported by me and our coaching staff. That relationship has already hopefully started.

Q. Aaron, you inherited Larry Rothschild, who's obviously had a lot of experience. How are you going to let him handle pitching? How involved are you going to be in, say, pitching changes? Is it going to be all his call? Is he going to recommend to you how to handle it?

AARON BOONE: I'll be involved -- look, with all my coaches, I don't see myself being a guy that micromanages situations. Obviously, they'll report to me and let me know what's going on with whatever things that they're coaching, but I would say Larry and my relationship will be a strong one. It will obviously be an important one. And somebody that I'll lean on heavily when it comes to making decisions about pitching changes.

I mean, in the end, those decisions are mine, but Larry is somebody that I'm going to lean on heavily, rely on heavily, and somebody that I already, going into this, have a ton of respect for.

Q. Aaron, when you took the job, you didn't have Stanton. You had Castro and had Lee. Are you surprised at how quickly this has all changed?

AARON BOONE: Look, any time you wake up and not sure that we were necessarily in on Stanton, how quick it kind of came together and Brian was able to pivot when it became a reality, sure, that catches you off guard. But you also understand it's the New York Yankees, and we're going to do all we can to continue to improve the club.

So these things, when you take a step back, are surprising, but certainly they're exciting. And I know we're still working hard up in that room to try and tinker here and there where we can to try and improve this team so we have a chance to play with the big boys this year.

Q. Aaron, when you look at your outfield, Judge and Stanton, and you have three or four other guys who can be starters, how do you as a manager impact them so it doesn't become a big deal that who's in right field, who's a DH, who's all that kind of stuff?

AARON BOONE: Well, that's another thing that starts with the relationship. I think early returns are -- obviously this has happened quick these last 48 hours with Giancarlo joining, but there seems to be a lot of buy-in from these guys, and that's going to be important because there is going to have to be some flexibility.

One of the things we'll try and flush out in Spring Training is who makes the most sense. Who's maybe the most capable of moving to a different position? I think the one thing we're talking about with these, whether it's Gardy, Hicksy, Jacoby, and obviously Giancarlo and Aaron Judge is, these are all two-way players. These are guys that are talented on the defensive side of the ball, but I also think it will allow us to kind of use that DH to get guys off their feet, to get kind of rest, but also keep these guys in the lineup on a regular basis depending on matchups.

Q. Aaron, how big of a necessity is it in your eyes for you guys to add another starter?

AARON BOONE: We're trying. We're working real hard at it. I think it's something that we need to do, and we're trying to do. Hopefully, at some point we'll get a guy or two in the mix. But you also look at the depth in the farm system and guys knocking on the door. So we do feel like we're in a pretty strong position whichever which we go, but I know we're working hard to try to add where we can.

Q. I know on the day you were introduced on the radio, I think you said you wanted CC to come back or would like CC to come back. Have you been part of that outreach?

AARON BOONE: CC is one of the guys I reached out to early in this job mostly because I've had a relationship with him for a long time. I played with him in Cleveland for a couple of years. He's somebody that I have so much respect for and is obviously so important to the New York Yankees franchise. So I know we're going to have conversations with him. Whether it becomes a fit or not, we'll see in the coming days.

Q. Aaron, when you were looking from the outside, what was your impression of Tom Frazier?

AARON BOONE: Another guy that I have a little bit of a relationship. Obviously, we've kind of had a similar track in Cincinnati and then playing in New York. And I thought not only did it bring a lot to the table, obviously, for the Yankees last year as they were in the pennant race, just from a presence and obviously the power and the stability that he brings to third base, but also the kind of person he is. So I'm a big fan of who he is as a player and who he is as a person.

Q. Aaron, did you have a chance to talk to Ellsbury, communicate with him since the Stanton trade, see where he fits into all this?

AARON BOONE: I have not since the Stanton trade. Jacoby is another guy I know pretty well. He lives in Arizona. I live in Arizona. I usually see him, before I became manager of the Yankees, once or twice in the off-season. So these are conversations that we'll have over the coming days and weeks in the roster and see how different moves come to your club.

Q. Ryan is talking about coming back to Spring Training to bring back his job. Here's a guy who makes a lot of money. How difficult is that going to be as a manager?

AARON BOONE: Obviously, we have a lot of confidence in our outfield. We have a lot of, frankly, great players in the outfield. So, yeah, there are going to be some tough calls. Some of the guys aren't going to get to play maybe as much as they maybe would want to certainly. But that's just the reality of the situation. And because of the fact that we've made some of the moves that's put us in a position of strength right now, especially when you look at the outfield.

Q. Given the timing when you came in, how much of a voice or input do you think you have in a plan that was already set in place in the summer and the fall?

AARON BOONE: Well, look, right now what's going on as far as the Winter Meetings and when you talk about roster construction, I think I'm certainly part of the conversation, and I think they value my opinion now. I think that's why I'm in this chair.

But certain decisions, when it comes to acquisitions and different deals we might make, I think they value my opinion, but it's just that. These are decisions obviously being made by Brian, our scouting, analytics staff all getting together.

But I'm a voice in that room, and hopefully one that's earning a trusted voice.

Q. Aside from anything that your dad might have imparted on you, what's the best piece of advice you've gotten since taking over the job? Who gave you that?

AARON BOONE: I don't know if I can be real specific. I've talked to a number of -- Jim Leyland reached out to me. We had a really good conversation. I'm not going to share everything he told me. Mostly he's a little more colorful when he talks to you behind the scenes.

I had a great meeting with Joe Torre yesterday morning for a good while, and there was a lot of great advice that he imparted on me.

I feel like those are two guys for me that at different times in the year, I expect to reach out to them and bounce things off them and kind of look to them for some advice, especially as things come up that I haven't dealt with yet.

Q. Is there one nugget that either of those guys gave you, whether it's a broad philosophical thing that sort of sticks out?

AARON BOONE: Don't read the papers.

Q. Aaron, you mentioned a couple of coaching decisions yesterday. Any more on the staff?

AARON BOONE: We did add Carlos Mendoza to the staff. That got done today. He's going to be our infield coach, quality control. Expect to have him on the bench. Another guy that I'm really excited about adding to our staff. This is a guy that's impacted a lot of guys in our -- not only our minor league system, but guys that have now gotten to the big leagues. This is, I think, a rising star in our industry. I've gotten to get to know him a lot better these last couple days. Look, it's another guy that I think is going to really impact the Yankees in a profound way, especially when it comes to infielders this year.

Q. Aaron, what's it like to follow Torre and Girardi with their success and longevity?

AARON BOONE: First of all, it's two guys that I have a ton of respect for. Obviously, in Joe Torre, I got a chance to play for him. So I think it's one of those things that speaks to the success of this franchise, to the stability that I talked about earlier with Brian Cashman and this organization and the Steinbrenner family. The fact that for such a major club, that there's been two managers in, what, 22 whatever years it's been.

I guess in a way it's big shoes to fill, but I don't look at it as necessarily following anyone. Frankly, the position we're in as a club and the positive position we are in as a club, some of that has to do with how good Joe Torre was and how good Joe Girardi were at their jobs. They've allowed me to come into a situation that's really stable, and a lot of it is because of the efforts that they've contributed to this organization.

Q. Ohtani went to the west coast but still stayed in the same league. I know you guys are going to face him the first month of the season. How do you, like, plan to prepare to face him? What are the challenges?

AARON BOONE: Well, hopefully at that point when we do face him, obviously, there will be video, and the prep work we'll do from an analytics standpoint, from a video standpoint, from a scouting standpoint will just be like any other player of as we prepare for each individual series depending on who we're facing, we'll take all that information. Whether we're facing them on the mound or in the box, it will all be part of our game plan.

Q. Aaron, you mentioned being a voice in that room. I'm wondering whether, as a first-time manager and a younger guy, you're more comfortable with that notion of listening to several different sources of input, analytics and the like, as opposed to maybe somebody who's been a manager for quite a while who's maybe more standard.

AARON BOONE: I enjoy being in the room, and I do a lot of listening when I'm in there right now because, in very short order, some guys I've had a relationship with, but in a lot of cases, I'm getting to know guys as well.

And one thing I'm learning these last few days is there's a lot of smart people in that room. So whereas I'm not afraid to speak up and give my opinion when asked and contribute to the conversations, I'm also doing a lot of listening right now, a lot of learning right now.

And frankly, it's been something that has been a lot of fun for me to be in these conversations in these rooms. I feel like it helps you grow in your knowledge of the game.

Q. How much have you seen the role change from when your dad was managing to what it is now?

AARON BOONE: It's changed a lot. I mean, the game's changed a lot. There's a lot of similarities. I mean, at the end of the day, you're in this seat, you're making quick decisions. I think it's important to be decisive in the decisions you're making, and it still comes down to relationships are a very important part of this game, of frankly whatever avenue you are in life. Relationships play a strong role. That's true today, as it was 20 years ago, as it was 50 years ago.

Q. So people wonder, like, balancing those relationships, when you're making those decisions with the metrics, which tend to be black and white.

AARON BOONE: That's my job. It's to be prepared to have all the information readily available, the ability to decipher it, and then the ability to apply it within a game, within the course of the game, within the game plan, and make a decision that's best for our club.

New York Yankees