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Yankees Making the Team Meter: Week Two

Injuries have made the bullpen and the outfield two hotly contested position battles.

New York Yankees’ Deivi Garcia During 2023 Spring Training Photo by Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday RM via Getty Images

Editor’s note: This article originally went live before the Yankees’ roster cuts late on Tuesday afternoon. It has now been updated to reflect that bullpen candidates Deivi Garcia, Matt Bowman, Demarcus Evans, Tanner Tully, and Ryan Weber have been sent to minor league camp.

Last week, when we opened the 2023 edition of Pinstripe Alley’s annual Making the Team Meter, we found a Yankees roster that, despite battles for the shortstop and left field positions and the fifth spot in the starting rotation, looked relatively set for Opening Day. Things can change quickly during spring training, however, and over the course of the last seven days, the landscape completely changed: injuries to Carlos Rodón, Tommy Kahnle, and Lou Trivino suddenly opened a plethora of spots on the pitching staff, while Harrison Bader’s oblique strain meant that the team has not one but two outfield spots up for grabs.

So, where do things stand today? Let’s take a look. Once again, here’s the key that we’re using in case you need a refresher:

One additional note before we dive in: To help keep things clear as the roster shapes up, players who were cut or put on the injured list prior to last week have been removed from the list, while those optioned to the minor league camp since last Tuesday’s post will see their status changed this week before dropping off the list next week.

As always, let’s start with the pitchers.

The trio of injuries to Rodón, Kahnle, and Trivino completely reshapes the pitching battle landscape. Both Domingo Germán and Clarke Schmidt are now officially in the green zone, as the pair is expected to fill out the last two spots in the starting rotation when the season opens at the end of the month. This brings the Yankees to 10 pitchers guaranteed spots on the roster, with room for three additional arms to come north. Who will get those jobs? Other than Randy Vásquez and Johnny Brito — both of whom have been optioned to Triple-A Scranton — the battle is wide open. At this point in time, I have Greg Weissert and Albert Abreu as the frontrunners, but really, it’s anybody’s game.

At this point, things are too much in flux to get a clear read about what the team’s doing. For example, Matt Krook and his nasty breaking ball would be a natural fit most years for work out of the bullpen, but it appears that the Yankees are more inclined to keep him stretched out in Triple-A due to their lack of starting pitching depth in the upper minors. Hopefully, over the course of the next week, we’ll be able to say with a bit more certainty what’s going on.

I can say this, though: Tyler Danish will not be making the roster. When you’ve given up 14 runs while only recording four outs, well, a ticket to Triple-A is something you’re lucky to receive.

Let’s now shift our focus to the guys on the other end of the battery:

The names have shifted around a bit — Austin Wells, Josh Breaux, and Anthony Siegler were optioned prior to last week’s post (mostly due to injury), while Nick Ciuffo was brought in as veteran catching depth in camp with Kyle Higashioka off to the World Baseball Classic for Team USA. In the end, however, nothing has truly changed; Jose Trevino and Higashioka will be the Yankees catchers on Opening Day.

And last but not least, the position players:

As you can see, three major changes have appeared on this list. First off, the center fielder Bader will start the year on the injured list due to an oblique strain that will sideline him for about six weeks. In response to that, Aaron Hicks has been upgraded from yellow to green (while a trade isn’t totally out of the realm of possibility, it’s much less likely now), while Willie Calhoun, Michael Hermosillo, and Billy McKinney have been updated from red to yellow. Although I think the team would prefer to take Rafael Ortega or Estevan Florial due to their ability to play center field, all have a legitimate shot at a late push for a roster spot due to Bader’s injury.

Lastly, I have upped Oswald Peraza from yellow to green; with Isiah Kiner-Falefa now playing positions other than shortstop this spring, it’s clear that the shortstop job is the former’s to lose (at the very least, a role on the team is in the offing). Anthony Volpe has certainly done a fantastic job of taking that from Peraza, of course, but at this point, I’m inclined to think that Volpe making the roster means IKF gets traded, not that Peraza gets sent down. That being said, that green has a very strong yellow tint, and IKF’s yellow has a very strong green tint — in other words, anything can happen here.

And that, dear readers, is where the Yankees roster stands today. Do you agree with our assessments? Let us know in the comments section below, and tune in next week for the penultimate edition of this year’s Making the Team Meter.

No, I’m not forgetting somebody. In the comments section last week, somebody asked what it would take for Jasson Domínguez to be labeled “yellow,” and the answer is that, for me at least, there’s no scenario where it happens. I do not care how well he performs, Jasson Domínguez is not making the Opening Day roster. He’s been a fun story and is certainly putting himself in a position where a midsummer call-up is within the realm of possibility, but he’s not skipping both Double-A and Triple-A. Not happening. Nope. Na-da. It’s just not the way the Yankees operate.