Zeroed In: Ottavino will become 1st Yankee to wear No. 0
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By RONALD BLUM
NEW YORK (AP) Turns out Derek Jeter was not the last of the New York Yankees to wear single digits.
The tradition-laden Yankees say newly signed reliever Adam Ottavino will become the first player in franchise history to wear No. 0, a decision that was OK'd by owner Hal Steinbrenner.
Ottavino had worn 0 with the Colorado Rockies since the 2013 season after having 37, 35 and 56 previously in his big league career. He also wore the number - playing off the Os in his last name - at Berkeley Carroll High School in Brooklyn.
Jeter was thought to be the last player with a single-digit uniform on the Yankees, wearing it from 1995-2014 and being honored when his No. 2 was retired in 2017. New York has retired Nos. 1 (Billy Martin), 3 (Babe Ruth), 4 (Lou Gehrig), 5 (Joe DiMaggio), 6 (Joe Torre), 7 (Mickey Mantle), 8 (Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey) and 9 (Roger Maris).
New York finalized its $27 million, three-year contract with Ottavino on Thursday. The 33-year-old right-hander gets a $3 million signing bonus payable on Jan. 15, 2022, and annual salaries of $8 million.
Ottavino struck out a career-high 112 and walked 36 in 77 2/3 innings last year for the Rockies, going 6-4 with a 2.43 ERA in 75 relief appearances. He reduced his fastball percentage, relying primarily on sliders and sinkers.
Taken 30th overall by St. Louis in the 2006 amateur draft, Ottavino made his big league debut with the Cardinals in 2010 and was claimed by Colorado off waivers in April 2012. He had Tommy John surgery in May 2016 and returned to the Rockies for the start of the 2017 season.
Ottavino will join right-hander Dellin Betances and left-hander Zach Britton as the primary setup men for closer Aroldis Chapman, part of a bullpen that includes right-handers Chad Green, Jonathan Holder and Tommy Kahnle. He is the second free agent to leave the Rockies for the Yankees this offseason, following infielder DJ LeMahieu. Former Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki also signed with New York.
Ottavino's deal increases the Yankees' projected luxury tax payroll to $222 million, well over the $206 million threshold for the 20 percent tax. New York would pay an additional 12 percent surtax on the portion above $226 million.
The Yankees, who won the AL wild-card game last year and then lost to Boston in the Division Series, are among only three teams currently projected to pay tax this year, along with the Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs.
The Yankees' offseason moves included acquiring left-hander James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners, adding LeMahieu for $24 million over two years and re-signing Britton ($39 million for three years), left-hander J.A. Happ ($34 million for two years), left-hander CC Sabathia ($8 million for one year) and outfielder Brett Gardner ($7.5 million for one year).
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Updated January 24, 2019