Everything Yankees manager Aaron Boone said at the MLB winter meetings. What did he say?

Everything that New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said during his media session at the Major League Baseball winter meetings on Tuesday at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Conference Center. Transcript courtesy of by ASAP Sports

Q. So are you anticipating your team to make any big moves here?

AARON BOONE: I don’t know. I mean, obviously conversations are going on all over the place here with multiple teams, you know, free agents, trades. All those things are going on. It’s just can you get to the finish line with certain things that match up for both side. So we’ll see.

Q. Aaron, when it comes to priorities, in your mind as manager, what would be the top two?

AARON BOONE: Well, first and foremost, like our roster right now. All the people that we have that we know are going to be with us, it’s trying to make sure they’re in the best position to have the right kind of winter physically, mentally. All those things to where they’re putting themselves in the best position to have the best season they can, to be healthy. So that’s kind of the focus, which it always is. That, first and foremost.

I mean, look, you guys have all covered and are writing about where the spots on our roster are where we want to improve. But you go into this and you have those things, but it comes down to matching up. Sometimes you’re able to attack a specific need or hole. Sometimes that doesn’t come to fruition, and you’ve got to try and make hay on another part that may be a strength you have. Because it takes so many people to tango in this.

You just see where the winter takes you. We want to get better. That’s the focus.

Q. In your estimation where do you need to get better specifically?

AARON BOONE: Well, I mean, you’re asking for we need a left fielder and we need this and that?

Q. Yes.

AARON BOONE: Those are obvious things, but, again, it’s where are you allowed to go? Where do you match up with other clubs? Sometimes one move can make the need something else. Again, that’s partly what the front office is working through right now.

Q. I know you can’t talk trade, but in general when you’ve been around Soto, what do you like about him as player?

AARON BOONE: I mean, he’s good an offensive player as there is. He is a machine offensively -- on base, power, has accomplished a ton already at a young age. Durable. Has been a central figure in a world championship team. Has come with a lot of fanfare and been one of the rock-solid performers in our sport on the offensive side of the ball, year in and year out.

He’s a great player.

Q. How tough an offseason has this been for you since the end of the regular season?

AARON BOONE: Well, how tough? It’s the offseason. You’re consumed with trying to get better. That’s no different than, frankly, any other offseason.

We live and breathe this 365 days a year. Obviously this season was a disappointing one for us, but any time you’re not the last team standing, whether we’re in a Championship Series or whether we win 82 games and don’t make the playoffs, it’s a tough pill to swallow. And you go and you’re uber focused on trying to improve and get better.

Q. When you hear some of the names being discussed, how much do you allow yourself to think about what it would be like?

AARON BOONE: A lot. That’s part of the winter. Especially when you’re talking about a lot of different possibilities that could exist, you certainly try it -- from my standpoint, from a managerial standpoint, how you plug those things in and how you see it working out. Yeah, I think you let your mind go there a little bit and consider what different moves might mean for us.

Q. What made you so excited about what you say saw from Michael King (indiscernible)?

AARON BOONE: I think he took what we’ve seen really in his growth the last couple of years and then showed he could go do it in a starter’s role, pitching into the middle/later innings with a full clip of pitches by the end.

His fastball command is outstanding. When you have fastball command at both sides of the plate like he does and have the ability with the two-seam, four-seam and then have the secondary weapons that he has, that’s -- he has all the ingredients to be a really good starting pitcher.

Now, the next step for him was getting stretched out and being able to do it in that starter role. And he kind of looked like the same guy that we’ve seen that’s been a really dominant reliever for us the last couple of years.

Q. What do you view as the next step for Tony at the plate?

AARON BOONE: Just the all-around consistency. I’ve said with you guys a lot, I do feel like in his DNA is a guy that has a chance to really control the strike zone. And that’s an area where he’s got to improve, and I think will continue to improve. And I think when we look up hopefully we see those improvements this year.

But I think when you look up years from now, he’s going to be a guy that gets on base and has that ability combined with some power and obviously speed.

I think it’s just tightening up that strike zone discipline and then also being able to take away where teams found some holes and could exploit. And that’s all part of being not just a young Big Leaguer, but a Big Leaguer. It’s a game of adjustments and being able to constantly do that as a hitter.

I think Anthony’s makeup, intelligence, ability will allow him to do that.

Q. What was your take-away from those three days in meetings in Tampa?

AARON BOONE: A lot. They were long and aggressive and open and honest. So I think it was just probably a deeper look in the mirror and evaluation and trying to make sure we’re doing everything we can to -- look, you’re trying to improve every area of our team really on the margins. You’re trying to get a little bit better in every area, and so you’re looking at those things.

Again, that’s not just this winter. That’s every winter. Now, I think going through a season where we don’t make the playoffs, which is obviously a really big deal, I think we wanted to take an even harder, more pointed look at that and kind of get in a room and really challenge each other where we feel like was needed. So I think in some ways it refocused us on exactly what we want to do and how we want to go about doing it.

Now it’s on us over these past few weeks, but the next weeks leading into Spring Training, to put ourselves in a good spot to make sure we’re the best we can be.

Q. Will there be something that you personally are looking to change?

AARON BOONE: I think there’s probably some little things that I’ll do a little bit different or be a little more hands-on in some certain situations. But at the same time, it’s really important for me to empower my coaching staff to do their job too. And I don’t like to micromanage those kind of things, but there are areas that I have my eye on that I’ll make sure I’m a little more involved.

Q. How would you (indiscernible) catching situation entering Spring Training?

AARON BOONE: We’ve done a really good job of building a lot of depth from a catching standpoint. Industry-wide I think that’s always an area where teams are looking, and we feel really good obviously having Trevy back. Trevy is doing great. I think the loss of him last year was enormous for us.

I don’t want to understate how important I think Jose is to our team and to our clubhouse and what a force he is in our room, and we miss that. But we saw Austin Wells come up and really get an opportunity. We’re excited about his future.

Obviously Kyle Higashioka has established himself now as a veteran, really good backstop. Ben Rortvedt got a good chance last year, came up and was Gerrit’s -- was catching Gerrit down the stretch of a Cy Young season and showed he could more than handle that.

We’re excited about Narvaez. We’re excited about the depth that’s happening in our catching situation. I feel like catcher-wise we’re in a pretty good spot organizationally.

Q. What’s the latest on Rizzo and will he be able to go for Spring Training?

AARON BOONE: Riz is doing great. He stayed back. He was in New York pretty much all of October and even into November, coming into the stadium and working out. I would say by the end of the season, he was probably game-ready and ready to go. He’s in really good shape, and, yeah, I expect him to be able to have a normal winter -- or he’s in the middle of normal winter of training and getting ready, and I know he is really excited.

Q. Even though he’s cleared, does he still need to see doctors, get check-ups over the next couple of months?

AARON BOONE: I don’t know about his next check-ups, but I know he had them until the end of the season. So I don’t know exactly. I just know he is cleared and ready to roll. Now it’s about going out and proving it to himself.

Q. How about Dominguez? Eight games last year. I don’t know how his rehab is going. When he is healthy, is he your center fielder, or -- he’s had very few Triple-A at-bats.

AARON BOONE: That’s the thing, right? We’re in early December. Who knows where the roster -- if there’s trades made or -- so you don’t know what your roster looks like.

All I can tell you is from my standpoint, I think Jasson is going to be an awesome player in this league. Not just because he came up and obviously burst onto the scene with some really good games before he got injured. I love the makeup. I love the talent, and I’m excited about his future as a center fielder, as a left fielder potentially down the road in our yard depending on what our roster makeup is.

You never know. He is capable of all that. I think he’s capable of hitting in the middle of the order from both sides. He brings athleticism to the table. And as far as his rehab, it’s going exactly how it should be going right now.

Q. Eight games, though, is that enough to know if he is Major League ready or not?

AARON BOONE: We called him up because we thought he was Major League ready. So now it’s on him and us to go prove it when he gets that next opportunity when he’s ready to go. So you never want to overreact to things that happened over the course of a week or two weeks.

I can tell you leaving Spring Training, my opinion of him is this guy is going to be a really good player in this league. And I think that’s only been enhanced by some of the things we’ve seen throughout this year, throughout his small opportunity and when he did get called up. And the fact that surgery went well and he’s doing well is exciting for all of us.

Q. Do you know when he will be able to start swinging?

AARON BOONE: I don’t know. I don’t know the protocols, but he’s on line. I’m sure he’ll be swinging when we’re in Spring Training, so yeah.

Q. What have you heard about -- you just said (indiscernible) till the roster is settled. But you don’t have a contract (indiscernible) this year. You have a new bench coach and a new hitting instructor. For you personally, does it feel a little unsettled right now?

AARON BOONE: No, no. You guys know me well enough. I’m consumed with getting back to the playoffs and winning it all. Like, that’s where my brain is, and that’s where my focus is and what my role is in that.

Whatever happens at the end of it, it truly is out of my control right now. This is about getting us ready, from my standpoint, as best we can and get to Spring Training and prepare to try and win a championship. And that’s where my focus is, and we’ll see how it ends.

Q. What have your conversations been like with Giancarlo?

AARON BOONE: I’m really excited about Giancarlo. He and I had good conversations at the end of the year. I haven’t talked to him a lot this winter. I’ve texted with him and talked to him a couple of times. All I can tell you is he is getting after it. He’s always a very focused person and player.

I would say that’s on overdrive to make sure he’s in a really good spot heading into Spring Training. I think he’s consumed with making sure that he goes out there and has a Giancarlo-like season.

Q. Do you think that Yamamoto would look great in the pinstripes?

AARON BOONE: Yeah, I think he probably would, yeah.

Q. Do you plan to meet him, or have you met him? Could you give me something?

AARON BOONE: I’ve met him once before in the past actually, and I do plan on meeting him again, yes.

Q. Aaron, your organization had boots on the ground pretty much throughout the season in Japan watching him. What were some of the reports that you’ve heard from your evaluators who were over there?

AARON BOONE: It’s hard to find a 25-year-old -- is he 25? -- 25-year-old pitcher that’s as decorated as he is and has had the level of success he’s had at this point in his career over there and on the world stage in the WBC.

Our reports are that this guy is really good, as I think the industry sees it the same way, and it feels like there’s going to be a lot of suitors for him. But I feel quite confident that he is going to come over here and be a really special top-of-the-rotation type pitcher.

Q. What were the circumstances you met him once before? Is?

AARON BOONE: Just in kind of passing at some point in the winter. He was in a place that I was, and I got introduced to him so that was it.

Q. When you’re evaluating an international free agent for the club, is there anything tangible that may be unknown compared to if you are evaluating a domestic player? Maybe metrics that they don’t have, technology, tools. Anything like that that presents more of a risk maybe?

AARON BOONE: I mean, I guess it’s because it’s a different league and there is more of an unknown, I guess. But that’s why you have scouts and that’s why you have eyeballs on it, and you can measure things in a pretty sophisticated way these days. You’re able to at least gather a lot of relevant and important information in making the decision or an evaluation about a player.

And then ultimately that’s -- the art of all of this is how good of an evaluator are you. I think in the case of Yamamoto, this isn’t a nuanced diamond in the rough. This is -- I think everyone sees him as a pretty special frontline type starter.

Q. (Simultaneous speakers) at the end of last season that you thought there should be some changes maybe on how you guys look at analytics and Hal said there might be several changes. What in your mind is going to change from last year on how you guys are hitting and --

AARON BOONE: I think just hopefully being better at how we do things, how we feed our players information, how we get individuals ready. That’s, I think, one of the biggest challenges of the job now in 2023 is there’s so much great information for players.

But it’s always what’s best for in tapping into individual players. And there’s some players that eat up information and can handle a lot of information, and it goes a long way in helping them become the players they expect to be. Other guys, it’s like get out of their way and let them go play.

Part of our job as coaches, as an organization, is to recognize that, and one of the things is being better at how we do disseminate things and make sure our guys are in the best position to go out and be successful.

Q. What have you heard from Carlos this offseason? How confident are you that he can bounce back next year?


Q. Yes.

AARON BOONE: I just saw him the other day. He was in town. He looks great. He’s one of those guys that’s making sure that we take care of the winter with him and making sure that foundationally that he’s in a great spot coming into Spring Training.

I think he is off to a really good start the first half of the winter here. Making sure that his workout regimen, his throwing program, and his buildup is all air-tight and making sure he is in the best position so when he gets into Spring Training that he’s coming in with a great foundation.

Obviously last year did not go the way he wanted or any of us wanted it to. Again, you never want that to happen. But at the same time, it can also be one of those sobering reminders of how difficult and challenging this game can be and how important obviously health is. But hopefully it’s one of those things that just refocuses you that much more to make sure you’re in a great position.

The best thing I can say about Carlos is he’s got a lot of ability, and that hasn’t gone away. It’s just making sure he’s in the best position to get it out. That’s what we’re all on board with helping him do.