The Yankees announced a few more spring training roster cuts during their Monday afternoon game against the Phillies, and with the news came the end of one of the abbreviated camp’s most compelling stories.
Former top prospect Manny Bañuelos was in Yankees camp for the first time since 2014. He was hoping to make the Opening Day roster in the back of the bullpen after years of bouncing around various MLB organizations and international clubs. Bañuelos pitched well in spring, but evidently, he didn’t show enough to merit a spot on the 40-man. When asked him on today’s YES broadcast, manager Aaron Boone did say that he’ll start tomorrow spring finale and that he’s at least earned future consideration, so there is that.
One pitcher who did hear good news was pitcher JP Sears, who was told that he made the cut. The lefty pitched to a 3.46 ERA with an 11.8 K/9 last year in 25 games between Double-A and Triple-A. He initially came over to the Yankees in a 2017-18 offseason trade with Seattle for reliever Nick Rumbelow. Sears’ fastball flashed solid velocity and he has a good changeup too, so he’ll figure it mix in at the back of the team’s bullpen for now. He was added to the 40-man roster last November, so no move will be necessary.
Pitching prospects Luis Gil and Deivi García were also under consideration for potential piggybacking the early starts of pitchers like Luis Severino and Nestor Cortes, but they will begin 2022 in Triple-A Scranton. It’s an understandable desire to seemingly keep them on the starting pitcher development track, particularly in García’s case since his showing this spring was his first positive look of any kind after a disastrous 2021.
Prior to today’s game, the Yankees made the following roster moves:— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) April 4, 2022
• Optioned RHP Deivi García and RHP Luis Gil to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
• Assigned LHP Manny Bañuelos and OF Ender Inciarte to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
As mentioned in the tweet, veteran outfielder Ender Inciarte was also farmed out. Like Bañuelos, he was a non-roster invitee trying to make the back of the roster, but with versatile fellow NRI Marwin Gonzalez outplaying him and fourth outfielder candidate Tim Locastro younger & already holding a 40-man spot, it just wasn’t going to work out for Inciarte.
The Yankees have 28 spots to fill for Opening Day. Here are the locks:
Catchers (2): Kyle Higashioka, Jose Trevino
Infielders (5): Anthony Rizzo, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Josh Donaldson
Outfielders (4): Joey Gallo, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton
Starting Pitchers (5): Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, Jameson Taillon, Nestor Cortes
Bullpen (9): Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, Jonathan Loáisiga, Clay Holmes, Miguel Castro, Lucas Luetge, Wandy Peralta, Michael King, JP Sears
That’s 25 players, and two of the bench spots seem highly likely to be filled by Gonzalez and Locastro. (They’ll need to make a 40-man move to add Gonzalez, but they like him a lot.) So assuming that’s correct, who is remaining in camp for the Yankees to take north with the 28th spots?
Bubble candidates: IF Miguel Andújar, P, Ron Marinaccio, P Clarke Schmidt
At this point, unless there’s an injury, the Yankees aren’t going to add another position player, so Andújar is out. It comes down to whether or not the Yankees are OK with Schmidt in that aforementioned piggyback role that related to Gil and García. If they are (and Boone said that the team is considering it), then he’ll make the cut; if not, then it’s good news for the righty reliever Marinaccio, who hasn’t allowed a single run in camp.
Of course, last-minute roster moves are also possible, so stay tuned.
“We’re pretty close to finalizing some things. We are waiting for the next 24 hours to unfold, but we are leaning towards (carrying) 16 pitchers.” -Aaron Boone on finalizing the #Yankees Opening Day roster.— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) April 4, 2022
If the Yankees do decide to carry 16 pitchers, then they’ll have to decide who of Locastro or Gonzalez isn’t going to New York with them, so perhaps both Marinaccio and Schmidt make it after all. This seems like an odd strategy since that means a three-man bench already, but I suppose the team wants the extra relief arms for April with starters still building up strength after the shortened spring training.
Uh, okay then. Add another reliever into the potential Opening Day mix with Marinaccio and Schmidt, I suppose, since David McKay will indeed be on the 40-man roster. The hard-throwing righty doesn’t have great numbers in his only big league action with the Tigers and Mariners over 26.2 innings between the 2019-20 seasons, but the Rays picked him up as a minor league free agent a couple weeks ago, so they must have seen something. He didn’t pitch in 2021 after undergoing hip surgery in April.
Note: An earlier version of this story ran before news broke of JP Sears making the team.