Yankees News & Notes: Youkilis’ new stance, Soriano signs with Nationals


It’s that time of year again when players begin fiddling with their stances or pitchers try new pitches and arm slots. It’s all in the name of improving their play or could freshen things up for wily old veterans. YES Network’s Jack Curry said that Kevin Youkilis is one such player who is tweaking his batting stance before Spring Training. Also, the Yankees’ 2012 closer will be a Washington National in 2013. Why is that Yankees news? Come find out!Jack Curry of the YES Network tweeted yesterday that he had sat down with Youkilis about the upcoming season. Here are a few nuggets:

First, let’s start with the stance. The fact that he worked with Yankees hitting coach, Kevin Long — who has also worked his magic with Curtis Granderson with regards to power and hitting lefties — shows that he’s serious about getting back on track. He may not hit over .300, but if he can meet or even surpass Alex Rodriguez’s totals (.272/.353/.430, 114 wRC+) from last year, then the Yankees won’t miss a beat at the hot corner.

New batting stance for the Youk? Kevin Long, work your magic! (Image: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Perhaps the most surprising information is how Youkilis employed the help of one Johnny Damon in giving him advice about the move to New York. Obviously, being with the Boston Red Sox for most of career, as well as the many heated exchanges between him and various Yankees (looking at you Joba), there was probably some hesitation. As Curry tweeted, Damon gave him the blessing to make the transition. That said, CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte contacting him before he signed, in a recruitment effort? Color me impressed, I think Youkilis already feels like he belongs, which will go a long way at the start of the upcoming season.

Switching over to some free agent news, former Yankees closer Rafael Soriano has agreed to a two-year, $28M contract with the Washington Nationals, according to Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan. ESPN’s Jim Bowden had the contract information where Soriano will get paid $7M in each of the two seasons, while the remaining $14M will be deferred from 2018-2025. Also there’s a vesting option for 2015 if Soriano pitches in more than 120 games over those two seasons.

That decision directly impacts the Yankees draft position this year. Because Soriano declined the qualifying offer from the Yankees earlier this offseason, and since he’s a Type-A free agent, the Yankees will gain a draft pick in the supplemental first round. The Nationals will lose their 29th overall pick, while the Yankees will gain an extra pick (likely the 32nd pick). As it stands now, the Yankees will have picks 27, 31, and 32. That should help the team infuse the system with some top-end talent, IF they can get some of these picks to actually sign.