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New York Yankees first-base coach Reggie Willits becomes fourth not to return to Aaron Boone’s staff

There’s another hole to fill on Aaron Boone’s coaching staff.

First-base coach and outfielder instructor Reggie Willits is leaving the Yankees to become a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma, his alma mater, the team revealed Thursday.

Willits becomes the latest departure from Boone’s staff after the Yankees did not renew the contracts of third-base coach Phil Nevin and hitting coaches Marcus Thames and P.J. Pilittere.

“I want to thank Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone and the Steinbrenner family for the opportunity to work for such a world-class organization,” Willits said in a statement.

“I’ve cherished my time with the Yankees and I’ve grown professionally and personally because of the bonds that I’ve formed with so many players, coaches and staff.”

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“It’s been a challenging personal decision to make. I’m leaving a team and organization I’ve loved being a part of, but I’m returning home to be closer to my family and to work for a program I have deep ties to and great respect for.”

The Yankees stated Willits will stay with the organization until the end of December, when his contract expires, before officially joining the Sooners in January.

Two of Willits’ sons, Jaxon and Eli, are committed to play baseball at Oklahoma.

The 40-year-old Willits, an Oklahoma native, has been with the Yankees since 2015 — first as a minor league outfield and baserunning coordinator before becoming the first-base coach/outfield instructor in 2018.

He was credited with helping Clint Frazier become a Gold Glove finalist in right field in 2020 and also worked with Giancarlo Stanton in returning to the outfield this season.

Willits was also the Yankees’ baserunning coach, overseeing a unit that ran into 50 outs on the bases this season — the eighth most in the majors.

Boone, who earlier this week signed a new three-year contract with a club option for the fourth year, and GM Brian Cashman will now be looking for at least four new coaches this offseason.

Bench coach Carlos Mendoza, pitching coach Matt Blake, bullpen coach Mike Harkey and quality control and catching coach Tanner Swanson are currently still on the staff.

Gerrit Cole was named a finalist for the MLB Players Association’s American League Outstanding Pitcher award. The other finalists are Blue Jays lefty Robbie Ray and White Sox right-hander Lance Lynn — potentially foreshadowing the favorites for the AL Cy Young race.

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