The Yankees’ roster is kind of like a game of Hide and Go Seek except only trying to find a hiding spot in the final five seconds and ending up hiding under a loose blanket. The roster has bonafide all star talent: (Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, Brian McCann, Brett Gardner) and it has mummified bodies (Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia. It has promising youth (Luis Severino, Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius) and unknowns still in their primes (Chase Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury, Michael Pineda).
It’s like Brian Cashman is the type of cook to take all of his ingredients out at the same time and Opening Day will come and he ended up mixing everything together without instructions.
If you haven’t caught on, the Yankees are going to win anywhere from 80 to 90 games again.
They’re going to be a mixed bag; they’re going to struggle for six innings and be the best team in baseball for three. They have every game won, provided they are spotted a lead after the majority of the game is played. The Yankees are getting younger in the right places but somehow older in the important ones. So how do you finish this team off and gear them up for Spring Training? We know they have a long-term plan and we know, regardless of payroll, quotes or anything else, this is another transition year with no division title and superficial wildcard contention if the league plays as weak as it did last season.
Right now, New York has a payroll around $190 million committed to 11 players. We know the Steinbrenner brothers are aiming for a final roster, valued at $189 million, as soon as possible. We also know there is probably at least another $20 million coming to this year’s payroll when taking into account the 14 players under team control but without contracts, including Chapman, who is likely to get upwards of $10 million on his own in arbitration. So suffice it to say New York is going to sit around $210 million on its 25 man roster this season if they don’t spend another dime on a FA or in a trade.
Expect that outcome.
Dustin Ackley, Betances, Chapman, Nathan Eovaldi, Gregorius, Aaron Hicks, Michael Pineda, Chasen Shreve and Severino are absolutely going to be on the roster this season. We know 20 of the 25 roster spots without a doubt. So who are the remaining five options, all likely in the system and most of which on the 40 man roster?
Rob Refsnyder – With the proclamation of Starlin Castro being tabbed as the backup shortstop and also the backup third baseman, it’s safe to assume Brian Cashman is offering Refsnyder a peace treaty of sorts. He wasn’t comfortable handing second base to a large unknown for the third year in a row but the fact Castro will have some days off and also some time backing up shortstop and third tells me Refsnyder has a spot on this team. He’s a right-handed bat on the bench of a team with only one pure right-handed hitter in the starting lineup. He costs next to nothing and has shown he can hold his own with the bat in small sample sizes. Expect Refsnyder to be an infield bench player, capable of pinch-hitting for an infielder when Dustin Ackley is not involved and/or playing the outfield.
Gary Sanchez – With JR. Murphy out of the picture, the backup catcher role is Sanchez’s to lose. Austin Romine and possibly a veteran no-name will compete with Sanchez in spring training, but as long as he escapes healthy and somewhat productive, expect this to be a developmental year on the big league level with a start a couple of times a week to spell McCann. With Sanchez, Hicks, Ackley and Refsnyder on the bench, the Yankees have every position covered.
Bryan Mitchell – I’ve never understood the fixation, but Mitchell is very likely to have a role on this team. He will be the long-man out of the bullpen capable of going three to five innings and he may become pretty valuable with a lot of starters who don’t typically pitch deep into games.
Brandon Pinder – There are three legitimate bullpen roles up for grabs, two if you subscribe to the Mitchell Theory. Pinder had a somewhat successful 2015 campaign, has big league experience, throws right-handed and is just 26-years-old. If he has a solid spring and stays healthy, there’s no reason Girardi won’t favor him over say, Vicente Campos (who has not thrown above A level) or James Pazos, who is another lefty.
Nick Rumbelow – This is really the major toss up. There’s still two open spots on the 40 man roster, which could be used to protect minor league assets, to bring in veterans between now and March, or to open up space for a waiver claim or trade. Beyond that, Joe Girardi could, in theory, use this spot for another lefty. With Miller and Chapman less lefty options and more closer and setup options, Girardi may still opt for a two lefty format, which would mean one more in addition to Shreve, the resident veteran, middle reliever, lefty. But I’m sticking with Rumbelow, who debuted last season, throws right-handed, is just 24-years-old and showed some promise, albeit normal rookie inconsistency.
Alternative Options: Jacob Lindgren, Slade Heathcott, Ivan Nova, Nick Goody