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Yankees spring training: Final roster spots announced prior to Opening Day

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MLB: Spring Training-Atlanta Braves at New York Yankees Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees announced who will win the the team’s final roster spots on the last day of spring training. After a month of evaluation, the decision makers still had to decide on the rotation, bullpen, and right field job. With the injury to Didi Gregorius, they also had to figure out who would make the roster in place of their starting shortstop.

Luis Severino makes the rotation

The team officially announced that Luis Severino will make the team as the fourth starter in the rotation. The decision had come down to either starting him in the majors or sending him back down to Scranton because they do not see him as a reliever. Severino wasn’t perfect, but his 3.95 ERA with 16 strikeouts and 5 walks over 13.2 innings seemed to do the trick. Most importantly was that he only allowed two home runs.

He had been asked to slim down this year in an effort to become more flexible on the mound and improve his delivery. Severino also worked with Pedro Martinez and all the effort seems to have been worth it. While some of the other rotation candidates had better raw numbers, no one has more upside than Severino. As long as he didn’t implode this spring it was a safe bet to assume he’d make the team.

Instead of naming a fifth starter, the Yankees have decided to go with eight relievers at the moment. Because of the way their schedule is configured, they won’t need a fifth starter until April 16th. In the meantime, Chad Green is being sent to Double-A, while Jordan Montgomery will get a start at Triple-A. This will keep both in line for a possible promotion in a few weeks.

The bullpen is decided

We knew the bullpen would include Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard, and Adam Warren, but the rest was up in the air. The Yankees chose Tommy Layne over Jon Niese as their primary left-handed specialist. They are also bringing along Chasen Shreve as a second lefty, and Jonathan Holder and Bryan Mitchell as right-handed options.

How Mitchell will be used to start the season and after the 16th has yet to be determined, but the Yankees seem to like him a lot. As you might remember, the right-hander received a lot of attention last year as a potential reliever until a broken toe lost him most of the 2016 season. This year in camp he was used as a starter and pitched to a 4.57 ERA with 22 strikeouts and 5 walks in 21.2 innings, more than any other candidate. The Yankees seem to have really tested him out.

Holder struggled in the early goings of the spring, but his 0.58 WHIP helped him beat out Ben Heller, despite the latter showing himself as a strikeout artist. Shreve was also able to stay in contention, even when he was overshadowed by those around him.

Aaron Judge beats out Aaron Hicks

The battle that went down to the wire shouldn’t have been much of a decision at all. After weeks of discussing how hard it would be to decide between Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks, the Yankees finally named Judge as their Opening Day right fielder. While Hicks batted a decent .264/.361/.528, Judge simply out hit him with a .345/.406/.569 batting line.

There is obviously the argument that Hicks is a far better fielder than Judge and is much more versatile, but how much does that really matter? We can’t expect Judge to hit like this during the season, though it’s clear that Judge is the better hitter. We’ve seen over 1,000 at-bats from Hicks that tells us who he is, so it’s good that the Yankees made this decision.

Pete Kozma will be added to the roster

After news broke out that Didi Gregorius would miss the first month of the season, it became clear that someone not expected to make the team would get the call. The Yankees had several ways of filling in for Gregorius with multiple combinations of players available to them. In the end, they decided to go with Pete Kozma, who will have to be added to the 40-man roster before Opening Day. Who will start at short in April? That has yet to be announced.

The team’s decision shows how unconvinced they are in Rob Refsnyder’s abilities at second base. It could come down to him, Johnny Barbato, or Mason Williams getting designated for assignment in order to get Kozma on the 40-man roster. It seems that even when all the decisions are made, there’s always another one coming up.

You can take a look at the final roster here:

Impressed? Underwhelmed? Tell us who you think should have made the team.