BOSTON -- As the New York Yankees' season came to an end at the hands of the Boston Red Sox in Tuesday night's American League Wild Card Game, the spotlight shifted to manager Aaron Boone's contract situation and his future with the club.
With Boone's contract up at the conclusion of the 2021 season, his job status remains in question.
"I haven't had any conversations about [my contract] with anyone, so we'll see," Boone said after the Yankees' 6-2 loss. "I love being here. I love going to work with this group of players."
Boone will not look back fondly at Tuesday's game if it marks the conclusion of his tenure with the Yankees. Ace Gerrit Cole struggled and failed to record an out in the third inning before being pulled. The Yankees' offense struggled throughout the evening against Boston starter Nathan Eovaldi, and the bullpen did not keep New York competitive after Cole's exit.
In his four seasons with the Yankees, Boone has a 328-218 record and has helped lead them to playoff appearances every year -- but never farther than the AL Championship Series.
Reflecting on this season, Boone noted increased competition in the rest of the AL.
"The league has closed the gap on us," Boone said. "We've got to get better in every aspect. Because it's not just the Red Sox and the Astros now in our league. Look at our division, the Rays are a beast, Toronto, there's some teams in the Central that are better and better, teams in the West that are better and better, teams that have closed the gap on us."
His comments drew immediate blowback, as Yankee and baseball fans pointed out via social media that the team has not been to a World Series since 2009. That 12-year drought is the third longest in franchise history, behind the 17 seasons from 1903 to 1920 and the 13 from 1982 to 1995, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
"Guys are crushed," Boone said. "Tonight was another tough one to take. We have been through a lot of wars with guys in that room, and we have a lot of scars. ... When it ends so abruptly, the ending is really cruel."
Right fielder Aaron Judge gave a vote of confidence for Boone when asked why the Yankees manager should return in 2022.
"There's a lot of good answers for that besides being a great manager and leading this team the past couple of years, to winning over 100 games, his leadership skills being even-keeled through the ups and downs, the good times and bad times, that's part of it," Judge said. "When you are the manager of this team and you wear the N.Y. and you wear these pinstripes, it's a heavy burden. 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."
Boone said he feels incredibly supported by the Yankees, from owner Hal Steinbrenner to general manager Brian Cashman. The last time a Yankees manager was allowed to manage a fifth season without having won a World Series ring was 1922.
Regardless of his future, Boone maintained pride about his work as the Yankees' skipper.
"Whatever does happen, I'm at peace with," Boone said. "I know that I can hold my head high."