New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone is already visualizing the current AL East Boston Red Sox gap that is closing.
In a Steve Serby, of the New York Post, question and answer, the Bombers skipper hit on many topics including his thoughts of progress related to catching up to the champs.
“That remains to be played out,” Boone confessed as per the question relating to closing the Boston gap. “I feel like we’ve had a really good offseason from the standpoint of roster tweaking and player acquisition … hopefully continuing to do things in the offseason that allow us to be more efficient and better. As I talked about improving on the margins, hopefully things that we’re doing and working on this winter that we’ll be able to hopefully apply now going into the season hopefully make us a little bit better and allow us to close that gap a little bit more.”
Boone, 45, enters his second season fresh off a 100-win, October-witnessed rookie campaign.
Essentially the on-the-field reach of general manager Brian Cashman—in this new age baseball world marginalizing the manager—Boone is the antithesis of Joe Girardi.
The young skipper professed his sign-off on much of the hot stove transactions. In particular, the addition of left-handed pitcher James Paxton has caught his managerial eye.
“I thought that was one of the really great moves of the season. Obviously we had to address and shore up things within our rotation, and that was kind of the first strike that Brian [Cashman, general manager] made, and to be able to get a guy of his caliber, who I think, as good as he’s already been, I think his best days are still even ahead of him, and I think has a chance to have those with us. But to be able to get him early in the offseason, I think allowed us to be a little methodical and patient, and then to be able to bring J. A. Happ back and what he was able to do, to re-sign CC. … I think Paxton, as we’ve seen really in his career when he’s been healthy, he’s a guy that can match up with other elite starters.”
Paxton, 30, is not a lifelong big-league ace. Though solid over his first four seasons in Seattle, the lefty’s breakout didn’t come until 2017 (12-5, 2.98 ERA, 1.103 WHIP, 10.3 K/9). He then capped it a year later with an 11-6 record, 3.76 ERA, 1.098 WHIP, and 208 strikeouts in 160.1 innings pitched.
“Sure. We’re chasing the prize.”