Over at Grantland yesterday, Ben Lindbergh put together a pretty tremendous article detailing the lineage of the oldest roster spots in baseball. The lineage is determined by how the current players on each major league team got to their respective clubs, and if applicable, how the players acquired in exchange for them were added. Some spot got back a long, long way, such as Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, whose spot stretches all the way back to 1977, linking memorable players like David Justice, Kenny Lofton, and current Padres manager Bud Black.
The Yankees were included in the article of course, but after the retirement of Derek Jeter, who of course dated back to the 1992 MLB Draft, the oldest roster spot now belongs to--you guessed it--
Frank Stallone Alex Rodriguez. Observe below:
Interactive table by Nick Wheatley-Schaller of Baseball Prospectus.
I've always been interested in unique projects like these, and a couple years ago, I assembled a chart delving into the roster history of the 2012 Yankees. That one dated back to 1990, when Mariano Rivera was signed, and when his cousin Ruben Rivera was signed as well. Mo's cousin was once a top outfield prospect, and the 1997 trade sending him to the Padres for the rights to sign the late Hideki Irabu set of a chain reaction of trades that lasted all the way up to the 2012 Yankees, thanks to Nick Swisher.
Although the current 40-man roster does not have as many intriguing connections since the Yankees don't trade too much and most of their roster spots are pure signings, it's still cool to see in visual form how each member of the club joined up. Check it out:
After A-Rod, the oldest roster spot ironically belongs to the newest Yankee, pitcher Justin Wilson. The lefty took Francisco Cervelli's spot, and he was with the organization since signing in March 2003. The Yankee who's been with the organization the longest after A-Rod is starter Ivan Nova, who was signed as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in July 2004.
While these spots aren't quite as old or interesting as the Rivera-Swisher connection, do not fret! There is hope on the horizon, for the Ruben Rivera roster spot technically lives on through top prospect Aaron Judge. The exciting young Trenton outfielder was drafted in 2013 thanks to a compensation pick the Yankees gained from the Indians signing Swisher away in free agency. Here's how that spot has evolved over the past 23 years:
That's awesome, and there are some pretty memorable players mixed in there, too. It's just one more reason why we need to see Judge in the Show for the Yankees someday. If so, then Ruben Rivera will have another legacy beyond his awful baserunning and Jeter glove theft! So huzzah!
I'll try to keep this chart updated as the Yankees' 40-man roster develops this off-season. Thanks again to Ben Lindbergh for the idea and to Bluebird Banter's Minor Leaguer for the general chart format.