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Checking in on the Yankees’ 40-man roster and payroll

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As the offseason officially kicks off with the annual GM Meetings, let’s see where the Yankees payroll and roster currently stand.

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The World Series is over, and the annual GM Meetings are underway. That can only mean one thing: the offseason is upon us! As this year’s crop of free agents hit the open market, the rumor mill begins to churn, and the hot stove begins to be preheated, let’s take a look at where the Yankees’ 40-man roster and 2021 payroll currently stand.

The Guaranteed Contracts

(Note: contract info from Spotrac; as the Yankees worry about luxury tax impact over total dollars, that’s the figure that we will use)

  1. Gerrit Cole, SP, $36 million
  2. Giancarlo Stanton, OF/DH, $22 million
  3. Aroldis Chapman, RP, $17.5 million
  4. DJ LeMahieu, IF, $15 million
  5. Zack Britton, RP, $14 million
  6. Luis Severino, SP, $10 million
  7. Aaron Hicks, CF, $10 million

Total Value of Guaranteed Contracts: $124.5 million

The New York Yankees have more money in guaranteed contracts 21 organizations are currently projected to have in their total payroll (that number will certainly go down once free agents sign, however). Despite this investment, there are a lot of question marks in this group. Can Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino, and Aaron Hicks stay healthy? Will DJ LeMahieu play like he did in 2019 and 2020, or more like he did in 2021? Is Aroldis Chapman able to return to his early-2021 self, or is he a disaster waiting to happen in 2022? Only Gerrit Cole and Zack Britton have no true questions (yes, Cole is fine without Spider Tack) — and Britton is only in this category because it’s unlikely he plays at all next season.

Arbitration-Eligible Players

(Note: arbitration estimates taken from MLB Trade Rumors)

  1. Aaron Judge, OF, $17 million
  2. Joey Gallo, OF, $10.2 million
  3. Gary Sánchez, C, $7.9 million
  4. Gio Urshela, 3B, $6.2 million
  5. Gleyber Torres, 2B, $5.9 million
  6. Luke Voit, 1B/DH, $5.4 million
  7. Jordan Montgomery, SP, $4.8 million
  8. Jameson Taillon, SP, $4.7 million
  9. Chad Green, RP, $4.1 million
  10. Clint Frazier, OF, $2.4 million
  11. Domingo Germán, SP, $2.1 million
  12. Wandy Peralta, RP, $1.7 million
  13. Miguel Andújar, 3B/LF, $1.7 million
  14. Jonathan Loáisiga, RP, $1.7 million
  15. Kyle Higashioka, C, $1.2 million
  16. Lucas Luetge, RP, $1.1 million
  17. Clay Holmes, RP, $1.0 million
  18. Tyler Wade, UT, $700,000

Estimated Arbitration Total: $79.8 million

The Yankees have more players eligible for arbitration this winter than every team except the Tampa Bay Rays. That said, don’t expect all these guys to actually be with the Yankees come the spring — Gary Sánchez, Clint Frazier, and Miguel Andújar are potential non-tender candidates, while Gleyber Torres, Luke Voit, and Gio Urshela might be more valuable as trade assets.

Pre-Arbitration Players

  1. Albert Abreu, RP, $575,000
  2. Nestor Cortés Jr., SP, $575,000
  3. Estevan Florial, CF, $575,000
  4. Deivi García, SP, $575,000
  5. Luis Gil, SP, $575,000
  6. Chris Gittens, 1B, $575,000
  7. Michael King, SP/RP, $575,000
  8. Nick Nelson, RP, $575,000
  9. Clarke Schmidt, SP, $575,000

Total Value of Pre-Arbitration Contracts: $5.2 million

A number of former prospects — mostly pitchers with minor league options who can ride the Scranton Shuttle — spent most of the season on the roster bubble. Due to the rather replaceable nature of these players, expect some of them to be removed from the 40-man, either via trade or waivers, to clear space to add prospects that the organization wants to protect from the Rule 5 Draft.

Free Players

  1. Rougned Odor, 2B, $0

In case you forgot, the Texas Rangers are paying the entirety of Rougned Odor’s salary. While that meant he was essentially guaranteed a roster spot for the entirety of the 2021 season, what that means for his status next year is unknown. On the one hand, his value relative to his salary from the Yankees is theoretically incredible. On the other hand, that non-existent price might allow the Yankees to cut bait without feeling like it’s a monetary waste.

Prospects Yet to Reach the Majors

  1. Yoendrys Gómez, SP, $575,000
  2. Luis Medina, SP, $575,000
  3. Oswald Peraza, SS, $575,000
  4. Donny Sands, C, $575,000

Total Value of Prospects’ Contracts: $2.3 million

As always, the bottom of the roster is filled out with prospects that the team wants to protect from the Rule 5 Draft. Expect this portion of the roster to grow at least a little bit before the November 19 deadline.

40-man Roster by Position

Total Catchers: Sánchez, Higashioka, Sands
First Basemen: Voit, LeMahieu, Gittens
Second Basemen: Torres, LeMahieu, Odor, Wade
Shortstop: Wade, Urshela, Peraza
Third Basemen: Urshela, LeMahieu, Odor, Andújar
Outfielders: Judge, Stanton, Gallo, Hicks, Wade, Florial, Frazier, Andújar
Starting Pitchers: Cole, Severino, Taillon, Montgomery, Cortés, Germán, Gómez, Medina
Relief Pitchers: Chapman, Britton, Green, Peralta, Loáisiga, Luetge, Holmes, Abreu, Nelson
Swingmen: King, García, Schmidt

Projected Total Payroll: $211.8 million

When you lay it out like this, what we already know becomes abundantly clear: the Yankees need to invest in the shortstop position this winter, while they can draw from their depth at second and third to reinforce the lineup. Furthermore, while the team has a large number of pitchers capable of pitching at a major league level, there are also a lot of potential question marks, particularly in the rotation.

Fortunately, the Yankees are in a position to invest. At this point in time, the team is already above the 2021 luxury tax threshold, and although it’s unlikely that the exact same system will be in place in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the fact that they’re already at this point means that the Yankees have no reason to not invest more financial resources into the roster, as they are already paying the penalties. How much Brian Cashman, who said yesterday that he has “some latitude” in respect to his budget this winter and that he has already spoken with two agents who represent shortstops, is willing to spend, however, remains to be seen.