Aaron Judge said he would gladly change positions to make room at Yankee Stadium for Bryce Harper.
Aaron Boone said he doesn’t have to bother.
“I think that was just Judgie having some fun at the Super Bowl,” Boone said with a smirk on Tuesday night at the Thurman Munson awards dinner at the Grand Hyatt near Grand Central. “Judgie would do a lot of things for the team. I think that was probably pressed in the corner at the Super Bowl and he gave a good answer. But I don’t think we’re going to have to worry about that. I don’t think that scenario’s a realistic one for us at this point.”
Judge’s off-the-cuff comments came to the gossip web site TMZ at a Super Bowl red carpet event during the weekend. Judge started one game in center for the Yankees last season, but it doesn’t seem as if he’ll have to make that switch permanently so Harper can man rightfield in the Bronx.
“[Harper has] got more speed than me, man,” Judge said. “Wherever he wants to play, we’ll make it work . . . Anytime you can add an MVP to a team, it’s going to make them better.”
According to Boone, Harper and fellow free-agent megastar Manny Machado are likely to make some team other than the Yankees better. The Yankees met with Machado, but he is expected to sign elsewhere. They never made any kind of pitch to Harper . . . at least not that anyone knows about.
“I want everybody,” Boone said when asked if he wanted Harper. “Obviously, he’s a great player, but I think our team is pretty much set. Obviously, things happen that of course [general manager Brian Cashman] and his staff can pivot on certain things, but I think it’s safe to assume that we’re going to spring training with the team that we expect to have.”
That team will have offseason acquisitions James Paxton, Adam Ottavino, DJ LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki to add to last season’s 100-win squad. Cashman also re-signed J.A. Happ, Zack Britton, CC Sabathia and Brett Gardner. The Yankees lost David Robertson to free agency, traded Sonny Gray and will be without shortstop Didi Gregorius for a good part of the season after Tommy John surgery.
Have they closed the gap on the World Series champion Red Sox, who eliminated the Yankees in a four-game ALDS? And wouldn’t signing Harper and / or Machado give the Yankees an even better shot to topple Boston?
“That’s a question for Brian,” Boone said. “You never say never on anyone. But I would also say we’re anticipating we have a great team right now and feel like we have a complete team that’s ready to go compete for a championship.”
Boone said he was a little surprised neither Machado nor Harper has signed a contract with spring training right around the corner.
“Maybe a little bit,” he said. “I guess if you had asked me to start [the offseason], I would have guessed they would have landed at some point before now. But you never know the twists and turns that an offseason takes.”