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Estevan Florial traveling to New York, awaits Opening Day roster decision

With under 48 hours until Opening Day, the very back of the Yankees’ roster is in flux.

MLB: MAR 18 Spring Training - Yankees at Pirates Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Yankees just wrapped up their final game of spring training, an exhibition against the Nationals in DC. Only a few hours separate DC and the Bronx, and only 46 hours or so separate us from Opening Day festivities at Yankee Stadium with the Giants in town.

The Yankees’ 26-man roster is almost set, but there are a few grey spots still to be worked out. Here’s where it stands at the moment, including all known confirmed players.

Catchers (2): Jose Trevino, Kyle Higashioka

Infielders (6): Anthony Rizzo, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, Anthony Volpe, Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa

Outfielders (4): Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Cabrera, Giancarlo Stanton

Starting Pitchers (4): Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Domingo Germán, Clarke Schmidt

Relievers (7): Clay Holmes, Jonathan Loáisiga, Wandy Peralta, Ron Marinaccio, Michael King, Albert Abreu, Jimmy Cordero

All of Carlos Rodón, Harrison Bader, Tommy Kahnle, Lou Trivino, Frankie Montas, Luis Gil, and Scott Effross will begin the year on the injured list. Luis Severino seems likely as well in wake of his lat injury, but no official announcement has been made yet.

So that’s 23 of the 26 spots, with three still up in the air. This post will serve as a running account of the reports concerning who might fill those final spots, since that news is has been arriving in a hurry over the last half-hour or so.

Possibly In: Estevan Florial, Rafael Ortega, Jhony Brito, Mystery Box Player

If both players are heading to New York, then the smart money is on one of Florial or Ortega to take the final position player spot and for the other to sit on some kind of unofficial taxi squad in case there’s a threat of injury. The Yankees have to make decisions on both players since Florial is out of options and Ortega was only in camp on a minor-league deal as a non-roster invitee.

Roster moves still need to made to add the top prospect Volpe to the 40-man, though three easy ones will involve bumping Montas, Gil, and Effross to the 60-day IL. Perhaps another will have Ortega added to the 40-man as well.

I’ve also included the pitcher Brito in this discussion since the Yankees could end up adding him to the Opening Day roster with a spot start for Severino in the offing. They’re not obligated to do so since they don’t need a fifth starter until April 5th or 6th, so they could roster a reliever until Brito is required. But that is a possibility, as is a trade for another arm on the pitching staff.

Update (4:35pm ET)

Well, okay then. If the sources of MLBTR’s Steve Adams have done right by him, then Ortega won’t be traveling to New York after all. It’s very possible that he has an MLB deal elsewhere, or found something preferable to being in roster limbo. Either way, this bodes well for Florial’s chances of making the team.

Out: Greg Weissert, Ian Hamilton, Willie Calhoun

These three players were still officially under Opening Day consideration until this afternoon. Weissert in particular was a solid option since he was a member of the Yankees’ bullpen for a good chunk of the home stretch in 2022. But he will begin 2023 at Triple-A, as will his fellow reliever Hamilton and the outfielder Calhoun. The latter two were both in camp as non-roster invitees and just missed the cut (Hamilton agreed to push back his opt-out). The Yankees likely leaned Ortega over Calhoun in the NRI outfield mix since the former is a better defender and there’s less of a need for a hitting-first position player on this roster.

We’ll have more to come on the Yankees’ final roster decisions in the coming hours. There may yet be a final trade or two in the mix. No, it probably won’t work out as well as one of the Yankees’ final trades before Opening Day 2022, but we can dream.