Spring training is used primarily to get players into shape for the long 162-game season ahead, but it also serves as a tool for fringe players to work their way onto a big league roster. The Yankees don't have a lot of spots up for grabs that those kinds of players can obtain with even the best of spring training results, but there are a few roles that remain undefined roughly a week before the team leaves Tampa.
Here's a chance for you to predict who you think will end up on the 25-man roster once the team leaves Steinbrenner Field for Houston for their opening series against the Astros. Which players do you think will grab the last few remaining spots on the bench and in the bullpen? Will it come down to spring training results or veteran presence?
Locks - Brian McCann
Other options - Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine, John Ryan Murphy
Locks - Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson, Brendan Ryan
Other options - Dean Anna, Yangervis Solarte, Eduardo Nunez, Scott Sizemore, Russ Canzler, Zelous Wheeler, Jose Gil
Locks - Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki
Other options - Zoilo Almonte, Adonis Garcia, Antoan Richardson
Locks - CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Masahiro Tanaka
Other options - Michael Pineda, David Phelps, Adam Warren, Vidal Nuno
Locks - David Robertson, Matt Thornton, Shawn Kelley
Other options - Preston Claiborne, Dellin Betances, Chris Leroux, Matt Daley, Yoshinori Tateyama, Cesar Cabral, Fred Lewis, Jim Miller, David Herndon, Danny Burawa, Shane Greene
By my own personal count, there are 18 players that are absolutely guaranteed a spot when the Yankees break camp at the end of this month. That is, of course, assuming that none of them are traded ahead of Opening Day. The rest of the spots will have to be decided based on the various ongoing competitions. Cervelli seems to have the backup catcher spot pretty much locked up at this point, but he could still be dealt for infield depth if the right team comes calling. Pineda seems like a sure bet to begin the season as the Yankees' fifth starter, but David Phelps and Adam Warren still have a high probability of making the team out of the bullpen with Pineda likely to be pitching on an innings limit. The team could also opt to send Pineda to the minors to continue to build his arm strength if they are more comfortable going with Phelps or Warren at the back of their rotation, even though that seems unlikely after the way the spring has gone and how good Pineda has looked.
The bullpen and bench are where the most jobs are still left to be sorted out. Will Betances' strong spring earn him the chance to be in the big league bullpen on Opening Day, or will his magical fourth option be exercised to give him more time to hone his skills as a reliever in Triple-A? Could one of the surprising relievers like Leroux or Tateyama use strong spring training results to fill out a questionable bullpen?
Leave your predictions for how the 25-man roster will look on Opening Day in the comments below.