With a week of Grapefruit League play under the Yankees’ belt, it’s time to think about who has a chance to make the Opening Day roster. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll keep tabs on whose stock is on the rise, and who played their way out of the team’s plans.
Longtime Pinstripe Alley readers know all about the Making the Team Meter, but here’s a quick primer on the grading key:
The three categories represent the odds a player has to head north with the team. Red means it won’t happen, yellow maybe, and green indicates a near lock. Pretty straightforward, right? Let’s get to it.
The Yankees’ pitching staff appears set for the most part. Barring injury, the rotation has all five starters in place. Even with CC Sabathia easing his way into the season after a heart scare in December, and facing a suspension, the Yankees don’t need a fifth starter. With built-in days off, they can skip his turn until he’s ready to pitch.
That leaves the bullpen, which could have two openings if the Yankees opt for a 13-man pitching staff. One would presumably go to a long reliever, and Luis Cessa appears on the fast track to claim that job. He’s out of options, and Aaron Boone gave him a vote of confidence yesterday. David Hale played that role last year, so maybe he becomes an option at some point. The smart money, however, says Cessa.
The final spot could go any number of ways. Tommy Kahnle, who had a strong first outing, probably is the best fit for the role. He has the highest upside. Danny Farquhar is the feel-good story of the spring, but his rough debut yesterday isn’t helping. Stephen Tarpley could get a look as a left-hander who performed well at the big league level last September.
Keep an eye out on Phillip Diehl as well. I don’t think he has a chance to make the team, but his value is trending in the right direction.
The battles on the position player side of things should be interesting. If the Yankees roll with a 13-man pitching staff, they will only have three bench spots available. One obviously belongs to Austin Romine as the backup catcher. DJ LeMahieu will get another. So the Yankees have a single bench spot open, and it probably will go one of two ways:
1. The Yankees call the first base contest a draw and carry both Greg Bird and Luke Voit on the roster. Aaron Boone originally said that the team had no plans to run a platoon at first base, but a scenario exists where the pair force the issue. Boone conceded that they could bring both along, but there remains a long way to go before this gets decided.
2. Tyler Wade takes the last spot as a true utility player, holding down spots around the infield and outfield. The 24-year-old has struggled in his limited big league exposure, but he’s raking this spring. Wade’s hitting .417/.462/.917 with three doubles and a home run so far.
Clint Frazier may have made sense, but the Yankees seem committed to Brett Gardner. The organization also reportedly prefers sending Frazier to Triple-A to start the season. Wade makes for the safer call, but the Yankees have enough versatility to run with a backup first baseman on the bench.
Who do you think has the best chance to make the team? Let us know in the comments section!