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December 10, 2019

Aaron Boone

San Diego, California

Q. Booney, there is a report out there that Gregorius has signed with the Phillies, going back to work with George. Any comment?
AARON BOONE: I mean, I'll wait until the Phillies announce it. Then I really know it's official. Didi has been a great player for us. He's a great person. Somebody that's obviously been there before I got there and just kind of -- I followed his career because he came up with Cincinnati and then was out in Arizona, so I was familiar with him. To come in and replace Derek the way he did, he's had a great career to this point.

So wherever he ends up, teams are lucky to have him because he's a really good player. And I think obviously going into winter where he's healthy would expect a really full productive season seen from him.

Q. If you needed to replace him, are you comfortable with the options you have in house?
AARON BOONE: Oh, yeah. I mean, Gleyber is a shortstop. We saw him last year play the position at a really high level, especially the first half of the season, and still played it in the second half of the season. So we're lucky that with Gleyber, wherever the winter goes and guys end up, we feel like we can plug him at short and at second and know we're obviously going to get a great, great player.

And Tyler Wade and Tyler Estrada, we might flirt with having DJ slide over in a pinch. We know he would probably be capable of that. We feel like we're in a good spot, and the winter hasn't totally played out.

Q. Do you know Gleyber has room to improve? Is he a finished product in your eyes?
AARON BOONE: I hope he's not a finished product. He's such a young man. He's done some special things as a young player. The good things about Gleyber, and I talk to you guys a lot about this, but he wants to be great and he understands that that's obviously offensively, defensively, the intangible things. So he's always working to continue to get better.

I feel like last year he made big strides defensively at second base and the time he played at shortstop. I know he won't be satisfied, so absolutely we expect that he can continue to improve on what he's already done.

Q. On Didi once again, the fact that you saw him as a media member and then you managed him, you talked about replacing Derek Jeter, how did he handle that?
AARON BOONE: It was something that I remember watching from afar, but I was paying close attention. What stood out to me about that and this was before I knew Didi, obviously, was when he first came -- the first month he fell on his face a little bit. It was a struggle, both sides of the ball.

To be able to in a market like New York where you're replacing a guy like Derek Jeter, to not have that define him or even to some degree affect him I guess, his play over the long haul, to be able to become the player that he did in New York, I think speaks to the kind of character and who he is as a competitor, as a person.

Didi is one of those guys that he's kinda just better than all of us. He's got a lot of gifts. Fortunately for us, one of them has been a really good baseball player.

Q. You talked about the playoffs when the allegations came up with the Astros, but I guess more have come up since. What do you think of the news, what you saw that and heard about it?
AARON BOONE: Yeah. Obviously some of the stuff is, you know, eye popping, eye opening. We will see where it leads. We know obviously Major League Baseball is taking it seriously and going through a thorough process of talking to a lot of people and really trying to get to what truly happened, didn't happen, what was going on.

Hopefully in the end the result is, you know, a better game, a more fair game between the lines. That's something that we should all want to strive for as a sport.

Hopefully this process goes a long way in making sure that that's the case.

Q. If people deliberately violated the rules, do you think they should be suspended?
AARON BOONE: Look, I'm sure Major League Baseball is obviously taking it very seriously, and whatever comes out of this, then they'll make their appropriate penalties, punishments, whatever it is. I don't want to speculate on what should happen until we truly know what did happen.

We think we've seen -- but, you know, we don't totally know yet, and I would reserve comment until then.

Q. What did you learn most about Gerrit Cole in your meeting with him? What is the biggest takeaway, maybe?
AARON BOONE: Special, special guy. Obviously a great athlete, a great pitcher in the prime of his career, but I think -- we obviously got to meet with Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit last week, and I think both guys -- I walked in with high expectations and knew them both a little bit, but to get to spend time with them, see who they are, see what makes them tick, to kind of get a peek at a great athlete in the midst of the primes of their career, how smart they were, how understanding of themselves, their body, their mechanics, what makes them great, I feel like Gerrit's understanding of who he is and why he's great and to be able to speak about it was really impressive.

Q. Aaron, he was a big Yankee fan as a kid. Did he ask you about 2003?
AARON BOONE: That might have come up. It definitely might have come up in the meeting at some point. It was a long meeting.

Q. Aaron, the fact that Brian Cashman when he met with us, he described -- he wouldn't say whether they put an offer in or not, but he did say he feels comfortable the team is putting in a championship effort. What does that say about your team in trying to sign Gerrit Cole?
AARON BOONE: Look, I think we all understand and all certainly feel like we have a special group, a special team, that's hopefully in the middle of a chance to do some great things.

Obviously anytime you're talking about a player the caliber of Gerrit Cole and knowing what he can potentially mean to our club, you know, it's no surprise that we are as invested as we are in pursuing him.

Even though we feel like whatever ends up happening we have a chance to have a special team, an elite team, a championship team, but obviously when you are talking about a player at the level of Gerrit Cole, in a lot of ways that's a game-changing type talent.

Q. Where do you see Miguel playing next year?
AARON BOONE: We'll see. Long way to go between now and certainly Opening Day and the end of March. I know he's doing well physically. First and foremost it's about getting him rehabbed properly and ready to go so that he's ready to come into Spring Training and compete.

He's working hard right now on his defense and kinda building up his arm strength. So we know he's a really talented, really potentially special player, and first and foremost we want him to be healthy and ready to go so he can put his best foot forward come Spring Training.

Q. Have you asked him to...
AARON BOONE: No, no. We have not. And I think it's probably something he would be open to. We have started talking about a little bit, but right now we have a focus on getting healthy and working hard at third base.

Q. If you don't get Cole, how do you feel about your rotation and where does J.A. Happ fit in that?
AARON BOONE: Good. We feel like we have the makings of a really good rotation. I feel like sometimes our rotation doesn't quite get the credit that I think it deserves.

Obviously adding a guy like Cole to that mix makes it one of the best. But we certainly feel like we have a capable rotation as it sits right now. And as far as Jay goes, I think Jay is going to have a really good year. I really do.

I thought the things that he went through last year, I feel like there was a little bit of -- a little bit of unluckiness in there. In a lot of games where he was throwing the ball well the home run got him, you know, in kinda the year of the home run.

I think all that he went through, the way he worked through it, continued to grind and tinker and find his way, you know, the way he finished up the season he looked a lot more like the guy he's been throughout his career and the guy we traded for, and I feel like he's in a place where he's going to go out and have a very Jay Happ-type season.

Q. Do you see him as a starter?
AARON BOONE: Yeah, I see him as a starter.

Q. You guys as an organization having all in on Cole ownership on down, you and Ryan continued flying west. How much of a blow would it be if you don't land him after making what has been described as a championship caliber effort to get him?
AARON BOONE: Look, you know, I think you guys know. And being around me, I don't want any one thing to define us or affect us. Bottom line is we know we have a roster that has a chance to be special. Obviously in adding a Gerrit Cole, that opportunity doesn't come along, so I don't want to underestimate what the impact would be there.

But we would keep moving. The winter doesn't stop. The roster tinkering doesn't stop. We still feel like we would be in position to have a club that is able to compete for a championship. Hopefully it's with Gerrit, but we will see.

Q. Cashman said for a long time not everybody is cutout to play in New York.
AARON BOONE: I feel good that he is.

Q. I was going to say, securing your conversation with him, what kind of feedback did you get from him that he would embrace and ultimately thrive in what's a different environment than most places?
AARON BOONE: I feel like he's just -- obviously he's a special talent and a special pitcher, but I feel like his make-up is similar, really special. This is a guy that's really hungry, really driven.

Again, he understands who he is, and I don't think whether -- wherever he takes up residence he's going to be a great pitcher.

Hopefully it's in the Bronx.

Q. You're uniquely equipped in that meeting to address Gerrit as a former Yankee, and now a Yankee manager, someone with an affinity toward Southern California. Brian said we're not selling, we're just explaining our culture. How was your explanation of a Yankee culture to Gerrit?
AARON BOONE: It's something I think you guys know is really important to me. I tried to get that across and tried to kind of give him a peek behind the curtain who I am, who we are, and what our clubhouse represents, and hopefully we painted a picture that was appealing to him.

But ultimately that comes down to being something that's obviously his decision. We feel like -- I certainly feel like there is no better place than to come play for the Yankees in the Bronx, and hopefully at the end of the day he feels the same way.

Q. You have gone through a few of these meetings, maybe not as intense, but do you feel like you are more comfortable or found something that works for you in terms of approach?
AARON BOONE: I don't know. Everyone is a little bit different, honestly. You just try and get to know one another and try and be authentic and explain who we are, try and find out about the player.

I guess I've now done a handful of these with some really special players around the league. I look at it as kind of a privilege to get to meet other players, in a lot of cases players that are great at what they do. To get the opportunity to speak to them and get to know them and get to know their families a little bit, you know, that's something that's -- whatever ends up happening, whether we land a player or a guy goes somewhere else, the opportunity to spend time with other people in a game we love, that's an honor to be a part of that.

Q. Do you feel like your experience covering them as a broadcaster and maybe having a friendlier face helps ease into it?
AARON BOONE: I don't know. I don't know whether broadcasting or whatever -- maybe in some cases that's been how I've met them or first struck up a conversation with them, so maybe in some way that helps a little bit. But I don't know. I feel like I'm kinda here now and they see me as an opponent, hopefully a teammate.

Q. Do you feel comfortable that you can cover center field while Aaron Hicks is out, or do you need to make a move outside?
AARON BOONE: Obviously that's somewhere where we will look a little bit, and obviously Gardy is still out there and someone we hope we want to bring back, obviously, and that goes a long way there. Mike Tauchman, another guy we are confident defensively that can handle center field and all three outfield positions.

But it will be something that we will kind of address in the winter, and hopefully one of those is bringing Gardy.

Q. Now that it looks like Didi is not coming back, are you concerned you won't have enough left-handed bats in the lineup?
AARON BOONE: Look, ideally you always want to have balance, but you want to be as good a team as you can be. So you're always trying to kind of improve where you can. Nothing turns out perfect. You're not always going to have the perfect roster, but we feel like whichever way we go, and especially with Aaron out, Hicks to start the first couple of months probably, there is certainly a chance that we could be very right-handed, but we also know there is a really good chance that we will be a really good offense.

Q. Why bring Andy to that meeting?
AARON BOONE: Man, I wanted him there. I think Gerrit -- in Gerrit's case, obviously as a Yankee fan, we knew one of his favorite players growing up was Andy Pettit. We've all got to see the impact Andy has had in our organization not only as a great ex-Yankee, but also even now as his role has continued to grow, his effect with players, his ability to relate and talk and have a positive impact on players is something that I've got to witness here these last couple years.

I think him being there as a fellow great pitcher I knew would be valuable, and I'm confident it was incredibly valuable.

Q. Is first base a competition in your eyes right now? How do you see that?
AARON BOONE: I think Luke Voit comes in healthy, and I think even though he got back and I think was healthy to some degree, still probably wasn't quite all the way Luke Voit the second half of the season. Luke has proven to be a really impactful hitter and confident that the surgery he had this winter was a successful one and that he will come in and really lay claim to that position.

Obviously Mike Ford really had an impact for us last year as well, so he could be in that mix a little bit. And DJ, his ability to bounce around is huge. But I'm confident that Luke Voit is an impact player for us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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