Spring training is nearly here! The Yankees have spent the past four months doing their best to improve the team, and now it’s time to see the players in action. They will soon be faced with the task of building the 25-man roster, and unfortunately there won’t be room for many deserving players. Here’s a look at some of the big decisions looming:
What to do with Jacoby Ellsbury
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is your quarterly reminder that Ellsbury is still a Yankee. Even worse is the fact that he’s set to make $21.1 million this season and next season. The last time we saw him in action was almost a year ago when he was briefly spotted at spring training before his body gave out. He will supposedly report to camp healthy, so the Yankees will have to decide what to do with him for the first time in a year.
Ellsbury can’t be sent to Triple-A without consenting, which seems unlikely. The other option is that they could designate him for assignment. It is risky to put a player with so much left on his contract through waivers, though. It would be a low-risk move for some other team to nab him. It might be better to see if he has anything left in the tank so that the Yankees could flip him. If he did clear waivers, he could elect free agency...then he’d have to decide if he wants to potentially join a team that will play him, or stay on a team with a shot at winning the World Series.
None of those options are all that likely, which means that we’re probably looking at Ellsbury riding the bench. Unfortunately, that also probably means that Clint Frazier starts the season in Triple-A, because it’s hard to imagine the Yankees parting ways with Brett Gardner either. Assuming that the Yankees carry 13 pitchers, the rest of the bench would amount to DJ LeMahieu and Austin Romine. Can’t say I’m a big fan of that.
Luke Voit or Greg Bird
It appears that first base is Voit’s job to lose after he was so hot down the stretch. The Yankees have already said that they’ll have a spring training competition to make that decision, so Bird should get a fair shot. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense to go with a platoon here, because whoever loses out would be better off getting everyday playing time down in Scranton.
The battle for the bullpen
Here’s what we know for sure: Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Zach Britton, Adam Ottavino, and Chad Green are locks for the Yankees bullpen. I would think that Jonathan Holder is too. When you add the five starters to the list of pitchers the Yankees will carry, that leaves just two open spots in the ‘pen. They liked Stephen Tarpley so much that he ended up on the postseason roster, but will he make the team out of spring training? Can Tommy Kahnle regain his 2017 form? Do any of the non-roster invitees stand a chance of cracking the roster? Luis Cessa, Domingo German, and Jonathan Loaisiga could all be in the mix as a potential long man, too. It’ll be fun to see how this one plays out.
How would you like to see the Yankees make these decisions? Let us know in the comments.