New York Yankees News/Rumors: O’Day in Heller out, Brett Gardner and more

William Parlee
New York Yankees, Darren O'Day
Oct 17, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Darren O'Day (56) throws the ball during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the 2020 NLCS at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Darren O’Day takes Ben Heller’s place on the Yorty man roster

The New York Yankees made it official yesterday when they sent Ben Heller to assignment to make room for the new Yankees reliever Darren O’Day on the 40 man roster. When the Yankees finally found out that they could re-sign DJ LeMahieul for $15 million annually, that result gave them the money to spend. The Yankees went out and signed Corey Kluber, a two-time Cy Young award winner, and traded four prospects to the Pittsburgh Pirates for starter Jameson Taillon.

The Yankees still had positions to fill in the bullpen. The Yankees managed to pull off a surprising trade with the Boston Red Sox by sending declining Adam Ottavino to the sox, which will absorb nearly all of his $9 million owed by the Yankees in the last year of his contract. The Yankees gave up almost nothing and cleared that money off their 2021 payroll. The Yankees went out and signed one of the best relievers in baseball last year in Darren O’Day. O’Day in 2020 was 4-1 with a tiny ERA of 1.10. The Yankees also lost Tommy Kahnle to the Dodgers, a position they are yet to fill.

Yesterday the Yankees officially added O’Day to the 40 man roster by setting up reliever Ben Heller for assignment. If you remember, Heller was tendered instead of Jonathan Holder, who was a workhorse out of the pen for the Yankees. Holder has since signed with the Chicago Cubs.

Brett Gardner, Yankees have the money

After the signing of reliever Darren O’Day, the New York Yankees have approximately $9 million that they could spend and still stay under the $210 million left to spend to improve the Yankees in the 2021 season. One they could spend on is re-signing the Yankees veteran of over 12 seasons, Brett Gardner. Gardner, a centerfielder, has served the Yankees in the centerfield admirably and is a Yankee favorite.

Gardner, like many players, had an offseason last year. But in 2019, he had a career-high 28 home runs. Today, the centerfielder is one of the most durable players in the outfield, even at age 37. When player, after the player went on the IL Gardner, he was there to replace them. Even in his 2020 season, Gardner has shown that he has lost nothing defensively or running the bases. Gardner has always said that he wants to stay with the Yankees and retire as a Yankee. He would like one last chance to have his family watch him play as a bomber. The Yankees do have the money to make that happen.

Aaron Boone to mask it up in 2021

During the 2020 shortened, Yankee manager Aaron Boone wore a gaiter mask, one of cloth that could be pulled up over the nose. With the new safety protocol put in place yesterday, Boone must wear a  more traditional mask. A gaiter is a scarf-like cloth worn around the neck and can be pulled up over the mouth and nose. That type of mask is outlawed under the new protocol.

The team will also play differently in spring training. The units located on the west coast of Florida will only play teams located there, and the west coast teams will play only teams on that coast. That means teams will be playing more games with fewer units. For the Yankees, it means they will only be playing exhibition games between them and the Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are all located from St. Petersburg south to Fort Myers, as noted by’s Bryan Hoch.

Can the Yankees survive with only one lefty bat?

As it stands now, the New York Yankees have only one lefty bat, and that is the switch hitter Aaron Hicks. Last year they had hicks and real lefty bat in Brett Gardner, who the Yankees would not take up his 2021 option. The basic answer to can the Yankees survive with only one lefty bat, is yes they can. They won over 100 games two seasons from 2018 with just two lefties in the lineup. Last year in a shortened 60 game season, got to the postseason.

That being said, if the Yankees manage to win a World Series in the next year or so with their current core, they will be making franchise history in doing so without a viable lefty star. The 1996 World Champions featured Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, and even Wade Boggs; the remainder of the dynasty leaned heavily on the first two men. The Yankees can do it, but a true lefty bat sure would help the Yankees.