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Potential Yankees bullpen candidates from the non-roster invitee list

The Yankees lost some bullpen arms this offseason, so of the NRIs, who is best positioned to get some time in the major leagues?

Minnesota Twins v New York Yankees Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

On February 7th, the New York Yankees posted a list of 29 non-roster invitees to spring training. Names such as Anthony Volpe, Jasson Dominguez, and Austin Wells were among them:

Those players are the most recognizable names of the group, but some of the pitchers that are also being invited intrigue me. With the number of injuries the Yankees bullpen has had over the last couple of seasons, it always feels like a player or two gets a shot after being on the non-roster invitee list. So which members of this year’s group could be chosen to play in the big leagues if there is a dire injury situation?

The first name I want to talk about is Ryan Weber, who Yankees fans will most likely be familiar with as he pitched for the team in a handful of games last season. It was only 10.2 innings, but he was fairly effective in those outings. He posted a 0.84 ERA, a 4.05 FIP, and a 3.80 xFIP, which aren’t world-breaking numbers, but they are numbers that the Yankees staff could look to if they needed a replacement in the bullpen at some point over the course of 2023.

An interesting player that was on the non-roster invite list is 26-year-old Demarcus Evans, a 25th-round pick in 2015 of the Texas Rangers. He has played a total of 29 games at the MLB level, and in 30.1 innings, he has a strikeout rate of 27.6 percent. His ERA of 4.75 and FIP of 4.66 are not as good as some may want them to be, but according to his FanGraphs prospects report, he has a very impressive 70/70 fastball. He still has some control issues to work out, but being 26 means he still has some time to deal with those issues and could potentially see some MLB time with the Yankees this upcoming season.

Finally, Matt Bowman, who signed a minor league deal with the Yankees just a few weeks ago, could find his way up in the bullpen if things don’t go well on the health end this season. He debuted with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016 and lasted there for three seasons before going to the Cincinnati Reds and pitching quite well. He had a 3.66 ERA with the Reds and a 0.3 WAR. His 4.55 xFIP could have been better, but the numbers overall were solid.

Bowman hasn’t pitched in a game since that season and has been dealing with an elbow injury since 2020. He had to have Tommy John surgery to repair it, so he will most likely be sent to Triple-A first out of spring training. However, if he pitches well and his health cooperates, there could be a call-up sooner than we may think. The rust is going to need to be worked off, but his career 1.6 WAR leads me to believe that he could be a relatively valuable piece from the bullpen if he ends up with the big club.

One name that I don’t think will make an impact on the MLB roster this season but could be an impactful player in the future is 24-year-old Mitch Spence. He was drafted in the 10th round in the 2019 MLB Draft. His prospects report on FanGraphs shows that his slider is his best weapon, and in 51.1 innings pitched at the Triple-A level last season, he had a 3.86 ERA and 4.14 xFIP. There are still some things that need to be worked on, but he may be a name that makes an impression as spring training develops.