The occasion was a Zoom news conference on Tuesday to welcome former Mets manager Luis Rojas to the Yankees as Aaron Boone’s new third-base coach.
But the real news was Boone opening the door in a big way for Carlos Correa to join the Yankees as a free agent despite the talented shortstop’s association with the Astros’ cheating scandal.
Echoing and amplifying on comments made last week by Brian Cashman at the general managers’ meetings, Boone lauded Correa the person as much as Correa the player.
In other words, even though Yankees fans and some players (see: Aaron Judge) might still hold a grudge against tainted Astros, Boone does not.
"Great player," Boone said of Correa, who is one of several franchise shortstops on the free-agent market. "I think he’s obviously in the prime of his career or entering the prime of his career even, and [is] part of what is a very special shortstop class. I think he’s a guy that has really developed into a leader over these last several seasons with the Astros and he’s going to be in high demand for good reason based on the player he is between the lines. But I also think the intangible things that you’ve seen him grow into over the years, at least [from] across the diamond."
Boone made it clear he wouldn’t expect the clubhouse to revolt if the Yankees sign Correa.
"I think we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves with different free agents," Boone said. "But, look, any time we’re more involved with a free agent that’s of large significance that’s going to attract a lot of years and dollars and things like that, we’re all going to feel really good about it. Not only the player, but us as an organization, as well. So there’s a lot that goes into that. I think that’s part of what goes on when you’re talking to free agents or recruiting free agents — you want to really get to know who they are and what they are, and also [let them know] who we are and what we’re about. That’s a process and as much a part of the process as ultimately settling on a contract."
The Yankees can look at several other stars to fill their shortstop hole, including Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story and Javier Baez, if they want to spend big.
Another option is to add a stopgap shortstop and wait for top prospects Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza to develop.
"There’s no question that factors in," Boone said, "because we do feel like with Peraza and Volpe we have two future longtime impact big-league players . . . That’s all part of the equation."
Something that probably won’t be part of the equation, but was given breaking news status on Tuesday: A recent comment by Correa in which he said "Derek Jeter didn’t deserve any of the Golden Gloves he won."
Correa made the comment five days ago in Spanish on the "Me Gustan Los Deportes" podcast on the occasion of his own first AL Gold Glove award.
(Many Yankees fans would probably agree with Correa’s statement. Odd of him to choose to say it, though, on the eve of free agency.)
As for Rojas, he said he is excited to be joining the Yankees and is looking forward to digging into his new role, which will include coaching the team’s outfielders.
Rojas, whose contract option was not picked up by the Mets after managing the team for two seasons, said his personal connection to Boone and his family’s connection to New York City were two of the reasons he decided to stay local.
"I know the city, my wife loves the city, my son loves the city," he said. "There’s a lot of things. Aaron Boone and meeting Brian Cashman and other front-office personalities — it’s been great, and I can’t wait to keep getting to know them a little more and getting to know everyone in the organization as well. It wasn’t a lot of second thoughts. I’m excited about it and I can’t wait to get to it."