Now that we're in the final week of spring training, the Yankees are running out of time to make numerous roster decisions. They still haven't decided who will be the backup catcher, but we know that it will be either John Ryan Murphy or Austin Romine (unless they sign or trade for a random, surprise backup catcher in the next day or two). There also hasn't been an official announcement naming Adam Warren as the team's fifth starter, but that seems imminent based on his spring training performance and what Brian Cashman has had to say about him (although he did have a terrible outing yesterday, allowing four earned runs in four innings pitched in minor league camp). Aside from those two things, the only huge decisions remaining revolve around the bullpen. Which relievers will fill out the rest of the bullpen?
The Yankees have reassigned a lot of players the past two weeks, and most of the roster has been set as follows:
Rotation: CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda, Adam Warren
Infield: Mark Teixeira, Stephen Drew, Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley, Brendan Ryan, Garrett Jones, Alex Rodriguez, Brian McCann, Romine/Murphy
Outfield: Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Chris Young
Bullpen: Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, David Carpenter, Justin Wilson, (Esmil Rogers?)
If you consider Rogers a lock for the bullpen, then 23 players have guaranteed spots, leaving room for just two more. Although it would be nice to have seen Rob Refsnyder or Jose Pirela make their way onto the team as backup infielders, it's very unlikely at this point. Refsnyder made his sixth error yesterday, showing that his defense does indeed need more work, and Pirela suffered a concussion last week and is in danger of starting the season on the disabled list. That means the team has room for two more players in the bullpen, and the remaining relievers who haven't been dismissed from camp are: Chase Whitley, Chris Martin, Chasen Shreve and Andrew Bailey.
Chad Jennings thinks that Rogers' roster spot is relatively secure, which I find somewhat disturbing given his track record. For the sake of this article, I'm going to say that it isn't, which makes it five players competing for the final three spots in the bullpen.
Considering their spring training performances as of last night, it's Chase Whitley who should have a spot in the bullpen locked up before any of the others. The Yankees will probably make their decision based on who pitches the best for the remainder of the week, but their past performances should factor in as well. Last season, Rogers was released by the Blue Jays for being so terrible (16 earned runs in 20 innings), and wasn't particularly impressive with the Yankees (4.68 ERA, 4.17 FIP). His spring training numbers look decent, but should be taken with a grain of salt because he was charged with an error in last week's game against the Tigers, which ultimately let him off the hook for the next four runs that scored. Martin and Shreve have pitched pretty similarly, so if the Yankees end up deciding between the two of them, it could come down to whether they want to add another lefty in Shreve.
Unfortunately for Bailey, it doesn't look like he has a real chance at making the team out of spring training. He has pitched well in the few chances that he has had, but he's also been pitching for the first time since recovering from the shoulder surgery that he had back in 2013. Joe Girardi has made it clear that Bailey will need to pitch in back-to-back games before he can be considered for the bullpen, and there might not be time for that to happen before the regular season starts. Bailey also happens to be the only one of these five relievers who is not on the Yankees 40-man roster, but if he pitches well in Triple-A and someone like Rogers tanks, it shouldn't be too difficult to make room for him.
Who do you think deserves the remaining three spots in the bullpen? Should Rogers be a lock? Does it matter since someone will have to be the mop-up man anyway?