Notes: Gonzalez joins club; Cashman talks shortstops; Cole's plans

March 21st, 2022

TAMPA, Fla. --  has appeared in more than 1,000 games over 10 big league seasons, including some valuable contributions to a 2017 Astros squad that ended the Yankees’ postseason dreams before securing Houston’s first World Series championship.

According to New York general manager Brian Cashman, that pockmarked history was not much of a consideration for the Yankees, who signed the 33-year-old Gonzalez to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training on Monday.

“I just look to see what’s available and makes sense in my world,” Cashman said. “If it stands to make us better, we’ll take a look at it.”

The switch-hitting Gonzalez will look to win a bench role this spring, offering a versatile portfolio that has seen him play every position except catcher in the Majors -- he even pitched an inning last year for the Red Sox. A .256 career hitter, Gonzalez batted just .199 in 91 games for Boston and Houston last season. He would earn $1.1 million if he makes the club this season.

Gonzalez’s first assignment in Yankees camp was to grab a bat for batting practice, picking up at-bats against Jonathan Loaisiga and Joely Rodríguez. He could begin playing in Grapefruit League games by the end of the week, manager Aaron Boone said.

“He’s a guy with a lot of experience and a guy that’s had a really good career,” Boone said. “We’ll see what he’s got as this unfolds.”

A short Story
The Yankees were hardly thrilled to see Trevor Story land with the Red Sox; Aaron Judge said earlier this week that he was “not too excited about it,” while adding that “if we do our thing, I think we’ll be in a good spot.”

Having entered the offseason identifying shortstop as an “area of need,” Cashman confirmed that he had discussions with agents concerning Story, who landed a six-year, $140 million pact with Boston. The Yanks also spoke with reps for Carlos Correa, who signed with the Twins for three years and $105.3 million, but they did not make a formal offer to either player.

“We evaluated all the market availabilities from trade to free agency, then placed our bets,” Cashman said. “We were able to attack what was available to us. Once we pulled those down, it closed doors on other things. You only have a certain amount of money to spend, and once you fill those needs, you keep moving.”

It was arguably the most loaded crop of free-agent shortstops in history, with Correa, Story, Corey Seager, Javier Báez and Marcus Semien coming off the board. Cashman seems to be comfortable with letting all five go elsewhere; their choice was trading for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who came from the Rangers following a stopover with the Twins.

“We think he’s got a chance to be a good player for us,” Cashman said of Kiner-Falefa. “He’s going to get that chance to be an everyday guy and run with it. I know he doesn’t lack confidence. He’s going to bring some athleticism, good defense. We feel like we’ve got a good team and we’re running out the highest payroll we’ve ever had in our history.”

Stay back
Tuesday will mark Gerrit Cole’s first time facing hitters this spring, and the Yankees are opting to have it done in a controlled environment.

The Yanks’ probable Opening Day starter, Cole will remain behind for a live batting practice session at George M. Steinbrenner Field rather than face the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., a start that will instead go to Jordan Montgomery.

“It was kind of a 50-50 call for us, and for him, too,” Boone said.

Deivi Garcia has been listed as the Yanks’ starter for Wednesday against the Orioles.