Yankees Roster Prediction 2.0: New faces make their case as cuts begin

Trip Pub
Yankees Roster Prediction 2.0: New faces make their case as cuts begin

With spring training well underway and the regular season right around the corner, the Yankees have begun making cuts in camp.

On Sunday, the team optioned Luis Gil and Yoendrys Gómez to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and reassigned Chase Hampton, Art Warren, Josh Breaux, Ben Rice and Joey Gerber to minor league camp. The team also outrighted Jordan Groshans off the major league roster and onto the Triple-A squad.

Still, the Yankees have way more than 26 players in camp with only a few roster spots up for grabs, as the team has mostly stayed healthy so far.

Time will tell if that can continue after injuries ravaged the club last year. For now, let’s take a second try at predicting the Opening Day roster.

5 Starting Pitchers: Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodón, Marcus Stroman, Nestor Cortes, Clarke Schmidt

There are no surprises here, as all of the Yankees’ starters have avoided injury thus far. That’s especially notable for Rodón, who came into camp in great shape, and Cortes, who believes his shoulder woes are behind him.

Even though some would love to see the Yankees make a run at Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery, such deals remain unlikely with the projected rotation in good health. Even then, the Yankees have spoken highly of their depth starters, including pitching prospect Will Warren and free agent flyer Cody Poteet.

8 Relievers: Clay Holmes, Jonathan Loáisiga, Ian Hamilton, Tommy Kahnle, Caleb Ferguson, Victor González, Luke Weaver, Nick Burdi

Our first roster prediction had Ron Marinaccio filling the void left by Scott Effross, who will start the season on the injured list. That was before a group of non-roster relievers opened some eyes and popped some mitts in camp.

No one has done that more than Nick Burdi, an oft-injured righty who pairs a 100-mph fastball with a sweeper and a changeup from a low arm slot. That deadly combo has certainly impressed the Yankees this spring.

Another bullpen spot could open up if Kahnle doesn’t start the season on time. On Monday, Aaron Boone told reporters that the reliever is a bit behind schedule. Kahnle has been throwing bullpens but is building up slowly after shoulder trouble plagued him at the end of last season. That could benefit Marinaccio or Dennis Santana, another NRI.

Elsewhere in the bullpen, Weaver and Hamilton – last year’s NRI surprise – look like candidates for Michael King’s old multi-inning role. Loáisiga and Ferguson could also provide length.

2 Catchers: Jose Trevino, Austin Wells

Trevino and Wells entered camp as the Yankees’ expected catchers. That remains the case.

Trevino has yet to play in a game, however, due to a calf strain. While the Yankees expect him to be ready for Opening Day, that’s something to keep an eye on. Either way, Wells probably won’t start that first game in Houston with Cole on the mound. If Trevino has to open the season on the IL, Ben Rortvedt would likely get that start after catching the closing stretch of Cole’s Cy Young campaign last year.

If Trevino does progress as expected, Rortvedt could become the odd man out. He’s out of minor league options.

5 Infielders: Anthony Rizzo, Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, Anthony Volpe, Jorbit Vivas

The first four names on this list are a given. The last is far from it.

Truth be told, Vivas is, at best, a dark horse to make the roster. The second baseman could use more seasoning at Triple-A and has limited experience at shortstop and third. However, there have been several indicators that the Yankees would like an upgrade over Oswald Peraza on their bench.

While he is their best infield defender, Peraza hasn’t shown he can hit in the majors. He could benefit from everyday playing time at Triple-A. Vivas, meanwhile, has intrigued Boone with his bat. He’s a more exciting bench option than NRIs Kevin Smith, Jeter Downs and Josh VanMeter.

That said, there’s still time for the Yankees to add an experienced, versatile infielder for that bench spot, though free agent options are limited at this point. Ex-Yankee Donovan Solano is one possibility.

5 Outfielders: Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo, Giancarlo Stanton, Trent Grisham

Pending good health, the Yankees’ outfield should produce some serious offense. Soto is off to a sensational start this spring, settling in nicely to his new life batting in front of Judge. Stanton, meanwhile, is hoping that a revamped body and some swing adjustments will help him bounce back from a dreadful 2023 while avoiding the IL. He’s also expected to play some outfield, but he will spend most of his time at designated hitter.

Verdugo seems to be fitting in nicely thus far, and he can be a leadoff option for Boone when LeMahieu needs a break. Grisham, meanwhile, brings elite defense and some pop to the bench.

The Yankees may have to make some tough decisions in their outfield when Jasson Domínguez returns this summer, but this group looks set for now.

1 Utilityman: Oswaldo Cabrera

Like Peraza, Cabrera’s spot on the bench is far from guaranteed. However, Cabrera’s versatility is not limited to the infield, which means he’s still the frontrunner for the super-utility job vacated by Isiah Kiner-Falefa.

Cabrera needs to start swinging the bat better, though, as he entered Monday with an .083 average over five games.