The offseason is nearly over and the Yankees have spent the past week making spring training cuts to try and finalize their roster. A few days ago, they decided to go with Ronald Torreyes as the backup third baseman over Pete Kozma. They also determined that Luis Cessa and Johnny Barbato would both be members of the Yankees' bullpen. The Yankees left some big decisions until the last minute, though. Heading into yesterday's game, the team still hadn't decided who would fill the last spot in the bullpen. Joe Girardi even indicated that the 25th spot could go to a player from another team before they ultimately decided that Kirby Yates would take the last spot in the bullpen.
Yates pitched well throughout spring training, giving up just two hits through seven and one-third innings pitched. The Yankees purchased him from the Indians during the offseason. Prior to that, he spent the past two seasons working out of the Rays' bullpen. Although he experienced success in the big leagues in 2014, he was hit pretty hard in 2015 (10 HR through 20.1 IP). This would likely be a different story if Bryan Mitchell hadn't fractured his toe covering first base the other day since Mitchell was a lock to make the bullpen. Perhaps Yates would have made the team over Cessa or Barbato, despite Girardi's insistence otherwise.
In other pitching news, the Yankees also finally decided who the fifth starter would be. Rather unsurprisingly, it is going to be CC Sabathia. This means that Ivan Nova will be pitching out of the bullpen in long relief. Neither Sabathia nor Nova pitched particularly well during spring training. Nova posted a 4.13 ERA compared to Sabathia's 5.51, but Nova pitched almost eight more innings than Sabathia.
To Nova's credit, Brian Cashman and Girardi said that it was a difficult decision and stated that Sabathia was the fifth starter "for now." Sabathia is certainly not the same pitcher that he was when he signed with the team, but he did experience somewhat of a resurgence when he switched to a new knee brace towards the end of last season. The Yankees are hopeful that he will be able to pick up where he left off when the season ended. If not, Nova could pitch his way back into the rotation.
Many think that the Yankees will not move Sabathia to the bullpen simply because he is set to make $25 million this year, but Cashman shot down that idea. He said that the decision to make Sabathia a starter had nothing to do with how much money he will make, saying "Now it's about who's going to give us the best chance to win as we move forward." That sounds like the team would be open to moving Sabathia out of the rotation if he struggles, but that is somewhat difficult to imagine.
Do you agree with the Yankees' decision to add Yates to the bullpen and keep Sabathia in the rotation?