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Evaluating the Yankees' bench options

Breaking down the outlook of the 2015 Yanks' bench

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As things currently stand, we have a fairly solid idea of what the 25-man roster will look like a month from now, barring any injuries. The positional battles at second base, shortstop, backup catcher, designated hitter, and seventh reliever (or, less likely, sixth starter) will flesh out the remaining roster spots and determine what the team's bench looks like. With any club, the four, or sometimes five, players that make up a team's bench are the unsung heroes of the team. The guys who pinch hit, pinch run, serve as defensive replacements, platoon, cycle in for starts at various positions to spell the everyday players, and sometimes even pitch are integral cogs in any machine set to last the duration of the marathon that is the MLB season.

The early favorites to take the bench spots are John Ryan Murphy, Chris Young, Garrett Jones, and Brendan Ryan. Obviously, a lot can change over the course of the next month but at the very least Young and Jones are locks for their respective bench roles. Again, this is working under the assumption, albeit an unlikely one, that there are no injuries that lead to them having to become everyday players.

The Yanks will have Eddy Rodriguez and Gary Sanchez in camp, but the battle for backup catcher comes down to Murphy and Austin Romine. Both have dabbled at the big league level over the past three seasons with varying degrees of success. Murphy is the younger option with the better bat, and Austin is more defensively sound and is out of options should the Yanks try to send him to AAA. On the surface Murphy seems to have the edge, but Romine has been working his tail off in preparation for this spring ever since Francisco Cervelli was dealt.

The fourth outfielder spot belongs to Chris Young. The 31-year-old managed to be both a big disappointment as a starter for the Mets last season, and a pleasant surprise for the Yankees as a September call up. Should an injury thin the outfield during the season, either Tyler Austin or Ramon Flores are the most likely candidates to get the call to take Young's spot.

Nathan Eovaldi was the cornerstone of the Martin Prado trade, but Garrett Jones was a fairly important piece as well. Jones will serve as a corner outfielder and DH, and could be a valuable left-handed power bat to give Mark Teixeira the occasional day off at first against a righty. He won't necessarily defend any position well, but he's at least a body that can be used at more than one position off the bench, which is the most valuable thing they lost when the utilitarian Prado was shipped to Miami.

The middle infield is where things can get pretty interesting this spring. Safe money is that we see a Gregorius-Drew tandem, with Brendan Ryan able to back up each infield position (hopefully Didi holds his own at the plate well enough to avoid the necessity of a platoon with Ryan). Another possibility that might be appealing to some is, if Ryan were to be cut loose, Drew assuming his backup infield duties, Rob Refsnyder took the second base job, and Jose Pirela took on a super-utility role. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of the spring.