Nothing big in the news this morning so rather than rehash the Vernon Wells trade (because it makes me throw up in my mouth every time I think about it) I thought that I would take a look at the potential Yankees roster.
The injuries have made things very difficult both in trying to find replacements and fitting everybody on the 40-man roster. So let’s jump right in.
Let’s start with the starting lineup (9). There are still a few spots that are left to predict, but for Opening Day purposes it is likely to look something like this: CF Brett Gardner, RF Ichiro Suzuki, 2B Robinson Cano, 3B Kevin Youkilis, DH Travis Hafner, LF Vernon Wells, C Francisco Cervelli, 1B Juan Rivera, and SS Eduardo Nunez.
That’s 19 spots with six more to fill. Consider Chris Stewart a lock and we’re up to 20. The bench is probably the toughest to figure now so let’s fill the last two spots in the bullpen. Joe Girardi likes a good long man and with Hughes on the DL that means Phelps is in the rotation so I’m going to guess that Vidal Nuno makes the team. I also like Shawn Kelley over Cody Eppley, but they’re interchangeable at this point to me. Either one you go with, the roster is now at 22.
That gives them three more spots for the bench. With Jeter on the DL and Eduardo Nunez the every day shortstop it seems necessary to put Jayson Nix on the roster for insurance. Rivera can’t play first all by himself so I’d imagine they go with Dan Johnson too. That leaves just Brennan Boesch on the bench for the outfield. There’s 25.
The one spot where things could change is with Ronnier Mustelier, but that doesn’t change the above numbers much if at all. Mustelier could make the roster, but it would be at the expense of either Rivera or Johnson. Since none of the three are on the 40-man roster it doesn’t matter which two you pick, just that two are picked, and we’re still at 25.
Now it gets tricky as four of the players I have named are not on the 40-man roster: Nuno, Nix, Johnson, and Rivera (or Mustelier). So we have to find room for them.
The 40-man roster is already full, but putting Cesar Cabral on the 60-day DL will open up a spot. Manny Banuelos seems like a candidate, but putting him there starts his service time clock which the Yankees will want to avoid so he’s out. Mark Teixeira seems like a good candidate to me, but the Yankees will be hesitant so they can get him back as quickly as possible if he’s capable and doesn’t need surgery.
So they’ll have to trim two players from the 40-man roster. Here are the safe names (5): Jose Ramirez, Brett Marshall, Nik Turley, Austin Romine, and Ramon Flores. You could maybe throw Cody Eppley on that list too.
That leaves these guys on the bubble (7): Dellin Betances, Francisco Rondon, Adam Warren, David Adams, Corban Joseph, Zoilo Almonte, and Melky Mesa. Now I don’t think there is a single name on this list that would be able to clear waivers if they were removed from the 40-man.
What we could see is another trade. The Yankees could send, say, Adam Warren to a team for a spare first baseman. That would mean they wouldn’t need Johnson on the roster and the new player and Warren would be a one-for-one swap.
Then the Yankees could bite the bullet and risk losing one of the players on the bubble. Or put Teixeira on the 60-day DL. Or they could simply not carry Nuno on the active roster and instead go with both Kelley and Eppley. I don’t think any of those is ideal though. I would be in favor of putting Teixeira on the 60-day DL to prevent the temptation to rush him back.
Still lots of questions need to be answered, but they’ll be coming soon as Opening Day is less than a week away.
• The Yankees will send two prospects to the Angels in exchange for Vernon Wells. No word yet on who they are just that they are not on the 40-man roster. I wouldn’t expect them to be anything significant at all, but then again I didn’t expect the Yankees to pick up $13 million of his contract either.