Three weeks into spring training seems like little time at all, but it marks one final week to go before decisions are made and the team departs Florida for Texas. We discussed yesterday that spots on the Opening Day 25-man roster were being filled by players who are locks for the team and those who have pulled ahead in their respective competitions for a set role on the team to begin the year.
A number of cuts have already taken place to narrow the field down from the massive amounts of players that showed up to camp with at least some hope of making the team. The rest will play out over the course of the final week of games to give Joe Girardi one last glimpse of the players that he thinks would best fit the Yankees' needs right out of the gate. A bench spot or two is really all that is left for the position players without defined roles, but those could be important considering the shaky state of the Yankees' infield in particular.
As always, here is the legend we used:
Keep in mind that all spring training players are not created equal. Some can bat 1.000 and still won't have a spot on the team while another could pick up one hit before the team heads north and would still have a spot on the Opening Day roster. The reality of each player's situation is taken into consideration in their ranking.
The biggest spot remaining for position players in spring training lies with bench spots for infielders. Eduardo Nunez may have the advantage as the one who has simply been there before, but Yangervis Solarte's strong spring has certainly placed him in contention. Dean Anna hasn't had a great spring, but his 40-man roster spot could edge him ahead of his competition. Brendan Ryan has been dealing with a sore oblique for most of the spring, and upper back spasms that caused him to be scratched from Thursday night's game against the Red Sox could put his Opening Day status in jeopardy. That could open a door for Solarte or Anna to grab a spot that may not have been available otherwise.
It seems that the competition for backup catcher has been nicely wrapped up after Francisco Cervelli's hot-hitting spring. He was always the favorite to start the season as Brian McCann's backup, but Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy simply haven't done enough to really keep up. Cervelli could, of course, be used as a trade chip for some infield assistance if Brian Cashman receives the right offer. For now, there's little reason to expect anything other than Romine and Murphy heading to Triple-A to start the season unless a trade happens.
Ichiro Suzuki has been a bit maligned after the Yankees gave him a two-year deal following his half-season in New York in 2012. The acquisition of Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Alfonso Soriano makes Ichiro little more than a fifth outfielder on the team as it is currently constructed, but the team is almost certainly paying him too much money to just cut him loose. His spring hasn't been anything to write home about, though it would be pretty shocking if one of the players with better spring statistics managed to wrestle his spot away. There probably isn't a ton of playing time to be thrown Ichiro's way, but he will more than likely make the team as a bench outfielder unless another team decides they'd like to take him off the Yankees' hands. That's bad news for guys like Zoilo Almonte and Adonis Garcia who have hit very well this spring. Unfortunately, it's unlikely to matter when put up against Ichiro's salary and veteran status.
Which players do you think have the best chance of improving their stock over the final week of spring training? Can any of them manage to steal a spot that seems destined for a veteran?