Three weeks of spring training have come and gone, leaving the roster reduced a bit from where it was when things began at the beginning of the month. The team is narrowing their options for the last few guys to fill out the roster and sending the guys who will obviously be starting the year in the minors down to get their reps in minor league camp. That means no more Aaron Judge and Greg Bird on a regular basis, sadly, but guys like Rob Refsnyder and Slade Heathcott are still in big league camp for now, making strong impressions.
For those of you who are just finding this series now, we've been tracking the chances each player has of making the big league squad out of camp. Keep in mind that we try to be realistic about each player's situation, knowing that some players could bat 1.000 and be sent to the minors while others could barely crack .100 and still make the team.
Here's the legend we used, as always.
Here's how things stand after three weeks of spring training and two rounds of cuts. Unfortunately, the only real change came because of an ill-timed injury.
The main battle, and really the only battle at this point, is with the backup catcher spot. The Yankees have Austin Romine, who is out of options, battling it out against the superior player in John Ryan Murphy. It appears that the potential market for Romine has been heating up with multiple teams interested in the services of the backup catcher the Yankees may not have room for. It's possible that the Yankees decide to send Murphy down to Triple-A and keep Romine as the backup at the big league level, but all things point to using Romine in a trade instead. That would allow the Yankees to assign Gary Sanchez to either Double-A or Triple-A without running into a legitimate catching prospect that needs every day reps blocking him. Neither Murphy nor Romine has hit much this spring, but it seems like the team's mind is pretty made up at this point.
Jose Pirela had an outside shot of making the team if Brendan Ryan wasn't healthy and he had a good spring. The latter certainly came true and the former seemed like it might for a while, but Ryan seems on track to be perfectly fine for Opening Day after getting into games last week and Pirela collided with an outfield wall that may prematurely end his camp. That being the case, it seems like the utility infielder will be headed to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to start the season.
The Yankees have been very fortunate this spring on the injury front for position players. Only Pirela has really gotten hurt aside from Ryan missing time at the beginning with an injury he suffered from lifting weights. That means they'll be able to start the year at full strength, assuming nothing happens over the next two weeks. Unfortunately for guys like Refsnyder, that means there isn't really an opening on the team at this time. It's obvious to most that Refsnyder could use some work on his defense that he'll be able to get in Triple-A. It would have been nice to have a situation like Yangervis Solarte last year happen again, but it doesn't appear to be in the cards.