The Yankees have finally made a move and announced their presence at the Winter Meetings by trading Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan (!) to the Cubs in exchange for Starlin Castro. Chicago made the move to clear space and money after signing Ben Zobrist to a four-year, $56 million deal. The Yankees will take on the entirety of the four-year $37 million contract Castro is due and will have a $16 million team option for his age-30 season in 2020. We know all the pieces in the trade, but what does it mean for the rest of the roster?
The deal immediately gives them a starting second baseman for the first time since Robinson Cano left. After dealing with Brian Roberts and Stephen Drew, this should be a relief to everyone who roots for the Yankees. Brian Cashman was blowing smoke about a Rob Refsnyder/Dustin Ackley platoon at second base, but it turned out to be another Bubba Crosby in center field ploy. Platoons are never a good thing to have, they waste roster spots and often feature flawed players. If you can get a full-time player, you do it. Especially if it's a 25-year-old All-Star middle infielder.
As part of the deal, the Yankees were able to part with Brendan Ryan, who they weren't going to need anymore with the addition of Castro. His absence makes Castro the backup shortstop behind Didi Gregorius and it also opens a spot on the roster for someone else. It could mean that there will be room for both Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder after all, or even Greg Bird, but in the name of versatility, the Yankees will probably try to find someone who could backup at third base now. Ackley will be needed as a fifth outfielder, but since Refsnyder can only play second base, it's looking very likely that he ends up in Triple-A for much of the season, unless they decide to trade him in a deal for pitching
The loss of Adam Warren means the Yankees are going to need additionally arms. They already needed pitching help before this deal, even with six other starting pitchers, but since Warren provided such solid–and versatile–depth, the Yankees could use both a starter and a reliever now. If they make no more moves, it means Ivan Nova will be in the bullpen and might even (try to) take on the role Warren leaves behind. At the very least, it sounds like Nova will be staying on as the longman, unless they trust Bryan Mitchell in that role. Another reliable middle reliever–especially if Chasen Shreve is broken–will be something they need.
I would say that this deal directly affects Rob Refsnyder the most, followed by Ivan Nova and Dustin Ackley. It will also be interesting to follow what happens with the spot left open by the departure of Ryan. They now have 38 players on the 40-man roster and an additional opening on the active roster. Could they be waiting to scoop someone up in the Rule 5 Draft this week or could more moves be ahead of us? Finally, some excitement.