Boone returns, but Yanks’ owner demands better

MLB

Aaron Boone, who has led the New York Yankees to the postseason in each of his four seasons in the Bronx, will return as manager on a new three-year deal with a club option for 2025, it was announced Tuesday.

“We have a person and manager in Aaron Boone who possesses the baseball acumen and widespread respect in our clubhouse to continue to guide us forward,” Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “As a team and as an organization, we must grow, evolve and improve. We need to get better. Period.

“I know Aaron fully embraces our expectations of success, and I look forward to drawing on his intelligence, instincts and leadership in pursuit of our next World Series championship.”

With his previous contract set to expire at the end of the World Series, Boone’s job security came under scrutiny after the Yankees’ third-place finish in the AL East and loss to the rival Boston Red Sox in the AL Wild Card Game.

“I think I can help lead us to the top. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I came back,” Boone said. “Ultimately, though, the proof will be in the pudding.”

Boone’s new contract extends beyond the contract of general manager Brian Cashman, who is signed through the 2022 season.

“A manager is only as good as the players he’s got,” Cashman said Tuesday. “If he was entering the free-agent market, I believe he’d be the No. 1 managerial candidate in baseball. There’s a number of different vacancies, and we would be going to market looking for someone like him.”

A third-generation major leaguer who hit a pennant-winning home run for the Yankees in 2003, Boone has a 328-218 record in his four seasons as manager, but the Yankees haven’t been to the World Series since 2009 — the third-longest drought in franchise history.

“We want more and we expect more,” Cashman said.

The last time a Yankees manager was allowed to manage a fifth season without having won a World Series ring was 1922.

“When you are the manager of this team and you wear the N.Y. and you wear these pinstripes, it’s a heavy burden,” slugger Aaron Judge said after the team’s season ended. “But a guy like Booney, man, he wears it with pride, shows up to work every day and gets us prepared the right way, keeps us motivated and gets on guys when he needs to.

“It’s been a pleasure the past couple of years to play for him and fight for him every single day. I could spend all night giving you reasons why he should still be the manager.”

After leading the majors in runs scored from 2017 to 2020, the Yankees finished 19th in runs scored (711) during the 2021 season. They also had the sixth-worst strikeout rate, and there were complaints in the front office about the team’s in-season adjustments.

Even after in-season moves to add Rougned Odor, Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo, Yankees left-handed batters were last in the majors with a .207 batting average, 26th in home runs with 53 and 28th in RBIs with 148. Their righties hit .249 with 169 homers and 518 RBIs.

“It was at times both unstoppable but many other times unwatchable,” Cashman said.

After the season, the team did not renew the contracts of hitting coach Marcus Thames, third-base coach Phil Nevin and assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere.

“That hurt, honestly,” Boone said of getting rid of the three coaches. “That was a tough couple days for me, honestly. I did have to, I guess, do some soul searching.”

Boone’s grandfather, Ray, was a two-time All-Star infielder from 1948 to 1960. His father, Bob, was a four-time All-Star catcher from 1972 to ’90, then managed Kansas City from 1995 to ’97 and Cincinnati from 2001 to 2003. His brother, Bret, was a three-time All-Star second baseman in a big league career from 1992 to 2005.

ESPN’s Buster Olney and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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