Get amped, baseball fans – at this point, we’re closer to the end of spring training than the beginning. Another season of New York Yankees baseball is around the corner, and it’s coming up fast.
The Yankees also announced some cuts yesterday, which makes it a perfect time to revisit the weekly Making the Team Meter. Here’s your trusty key:
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First off, let’s address the cuts. Albert Abreu and Brooks Kriske were reassigned to minor league camp. For Abreu, being gifted an extra minor league option in his contract all but made a trip to Triple-A inevitable at this point. Kriske didn’t pitch poorly in spring, but he also didn’t pitch much, just throwing three innings. He’ll probably get a chance this summer due to a Major League injury or inconsistency.
Veteran non-roster invitees Kyle Barraclough, Jhoulys Chacín, Nestor Cortes Jr., Luis García, Nick Goody and Asher Wojciechowski are still around, but have virtually no chance of making the roster. Barraclough has been the most impressive of the bunch, which should make the Yankees want to keep him around on a minor league deal, if he’d take it.
The meat and potatoes of the pitching debate comes down to roster construction. Both Deivi García and Domingo Germán deserve to make the Opening Day roster. However, the Yankees may not have space for both of them. If they go with a six-man rotation, they’ll have to go short on the bench or in the bullpen. Perhaps they’ll open the season with a five-man rotation, stash the other starter in Triple-A for a week, and then call him up for a spot start or two? Aaron Boone mentioned the team will have to get “creative” with its starting rotation; now’s their chance.
If both García and Germán make the team, then there’s likely only room for one of Michael King, Nick Nelson, Lucas Luetge or Tyler Lyons. All of them have caught the manager’s eye, and the Yankees would probably like to carry at least two of them (a righty and a lefty). Again, this might require temporarily sending down García or Germán.
King’s status has shifted from green status to the yellow box due to the emergence of Nelson and the continued dominance of Luetge. With Zack Britton out, the Yankees would probably like to squeeze Luetge in as another southpaw.
If all goes according to plan, the Yankees will use all of these guys at various points this season. But, a few deserving candidates will be in Scranton on Opening Day due to the numbers game. How it all shakes out is anyone’s guess.
While the offensive crowd is a little easier to sort through right now than the pitchers, there are still some serious question marks and there will be some difficult cuts.
Since our last Making the Team Meter, Miguel Andújar’s injury status has taken him out of the running for a job. Thairo Estrada and Mike Ford were also reassigned to minor league camp on Friday. Neither Rob Brantly nor Ryan Lamarre were even on the meter last week, but injuries ahead of them on the depth chart have kept them in camp. Neither should make the team, but they’re still around.
How the Yankees handle the pitching portion of the roster will also impact the bench. If they go with the six-man rotation, they may have to cut a bench spot. Could that be Tyler Wade? It’s unlikely, but with Gio Urshela practicing at shortstop, it could be an option if the Yankees decide they can’t cut any of their pitchers. Still, Wade remains likely to make the team as a natural shortstop and the fastest player on the roster.
Jay Bruce didn’t do much this week, but has still been the Yankees’ best story of camp. Given their need for a powerful left-handed hitter off the bench, he still makes sense to carry on the roster. Of course, doing so will require cutting someone else off the 40-man roster.
His competition, Mike Tauchman, showed some life this week, and the Yankees would likely hate to risk losing him for nothing. Bruce has an opt-out on March 26, which he’ll likely exercise if the Yankees can’t guarantee him a spot by then. Either way, they’ll have to make decisions on Bruce and Tauchman by next week.
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What should the Yankees do with Bruce? How would you solve the team’s pitching crunch? Give it your best whirl at being Brian Cashman in the comments section below!