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Yankees lose reliever Stephen Ridings off waivers to Mets

One of 2021’s most entertaining stories officially comes to an end.

MLB: New York Yankees at Chicago White Sox David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Today is a relatively unimportant day in the grand scheme of things on the baseball calendar, but it is the last day that MLB teams can add prospects to protect on the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 Draft, which is scheduled for December 7th. The Yankees entered Tuesday with three open spots on their 40-man roster, and they’ve now gained a fourth with the loss of reliever Stephen Ridings.

The 27-year-old right-hander out of Haverford College won’t have to change major league cities, but he was claimed off waivers by the Mets.

It was a pretty remarkable story that Ridings was on the Yankees’ 40-man roster in the first place. An eighth-round pick in 2016 who had washed out of the Cubs’ and Royals’ organizations, the Yankees picked him up in January 2021, and he suddenly put it all together during that minor league season.

Beginning the year at Double-A Somerset, Ridings ascended all the way to The Show when the Yankees were going through a midseason COVID-19 outbreak. He electrified the crowd during his MLB debut against the Orioles on August 3rd in the Bronx:

The man went from substitute teaching to firing seeds on the mound at Yankee Stadium during a pennant race. Again: a remarkable story.

It’s just a shame that Ridings couldn’t sustain it. After striking out seven batters in five innings across five games (with just one earned run allowed), he returned to Triple-A Scranton as the pitching staff recovered from the bout of COVID, but he didn’t get back to the bump himself. Ridings went on the Triple-A IL with shoulder problems on August 23rd, and save for two brief rehab appearances in September 2022, he never made it back with the Yankees’ organization. New York added him to the 40-man roster in the 2021-22 offseason but never reaped the rewards. It was undoubtedly frustrating for Ridings, who had battled hard to simply get on the radar of any MLB team, let alone the Yankees.

The silver lining is that Ridings will still probably get a shot. Even if the Mets don’t carry him for the entire offseason, his arm is electric enough that someone else might snatch him up. It was probably just too much of a gamble for a Yankees organization that thankfully at least isn’t hurting when it comes to intriguing young relief options.

Best of luck to Ridings! The 2021 season was a drag at times, but he was definitely one of the highlights — no matter how brief it might have been.