The Yankees 40-man roster was already at 39 players and that was before they re-signed Andy Pettitte or Mariano Rivera or filled openings behind the plate, in right field, and on the bench so something had to happen eventually. It turns out they designated catcher Eli Whiteside for assignment, according to an Associated Press report.
The Yankees originally acquired Whiteside less than a month ago off waivers from the San Francisco Giants. They managed to avoid arbitration with him just two days ago when they agreed to a $600,000 deal and now they’ve risked losing him.
It’s not a huge risk though. For the Yankees to claim a player off waivers that player has to be passed up by every team in the National League (since it was the Giants who waived him) and every team with a worse record in the AL than the Yankees (which is everybody since they had the league’s best record). 28 teams had the chance to claim him and they didn’t so there is a good chance that he’ll pass through waivers again and just go to the minor leagues.
Whiteside is a typical defensive specialist type of catcher. He’s played in parts of five years in the majors and hit just .215/.273/.335, but teams, especially the Yankees, love a solid defensive catcher. It was pretty much a depth move though as neither Francisco Cervelli or Chris Stewart have options left so the Yankees will lose one of them when the season starts. This way they are guaranteed to have a backup in Triple-A if Whiteside clears waivers.