As the Yankees descend on George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa for spring training, who will be on the 25-man roster when the team heads north? There are some intriguing battles and here's how we see things shaking out.
Starting Rotation (5)
- Luis Severino, RHP
- James Paxton, LHP
- Masahiro Tanaka, RHP
- J.A. Happ, LHP
- CC Sabathia, LHP
Spring Training Battles: None
The Yankees are banking on Severino and Paxton to form a No. 1/1A duo at the top of the rotation. It wouldn't be shocking if Paxton ascends to the ace mantle of the rotation, and he could do so even with Severino pitching to his ability. If both break camp throwing well, Severino will likely take the ball on Opening Day.
The No. 3 and No. 4 slots could go either way, but we list Tanaka over Happ simply due to longevity in pinstripes. Finally, Sabathia, who is retiring at season's end, looks to be one of the best No. 5 starters out there.
In terms of depth outside the starting five, the Yankees have several young righties - Chance Adams, Luis Cessa, Domingo German, Jonathan Loaisiga - that could use strong Spring Training efforts to line themselves up for first in line when one of the starters inevitably goes down with an injury.
- Aroldis Chapman, LHP
- Dellin Betances, RHP
- Zach Britton, LHP
- Adam Ottavino, RHP
- Chad Green, RHP
- Jonathan Holder, RHP
- Tommy Kahnle, RHP
- Domingo German, RHP
Spring Training Battles: There seems to be just two spots available if the Yankees' roster accomodates an eight-man bullpen with the top six locked in, assuming health and solid spring efforts.
Kahnle was downright miserable in 2018, which was surprising after a very solid 2017 campaign. He is the type of reliever the Yankees like - hard throwing and generates a ton of strikeouts.
Kahnle could be challenged by a couple of lefty relievers in Nestor Cortes and Stephen Tarpley, who spent the final part of the 2018 season with the Yanks. The inspiring story in the Yankees' pen should come from righty Danny Farquhar, who is set to return to the mound after suffering a brain hemorrhage last season.
We have German in the long relief role. Call it a hunch that the Yankees will want a dynamic hurler like German to be available out of the bullpen when a starter gets in trouble. He might benefit from such a role and would be challenged by Cessa for the spot if the Yankees decide to carry a long reliever.
Everyday Position Players (9)
- Gary Sanchez, C
- Luke Voit, 1B
- Gleyber Torres, 2B
- Troy Tulowitzki, SS
- Miguel Andujar, 3B
- Brett Gardner, LF
- Aaron Hicks, CF
- Aaron Judge, RF
- Giancarlo Stanton, DH
Spring Training Battles: Luke Voit vs. Greg Bird, Troy Tulowitzki vs. himself, and Brett Gardner vs. Clint Frazier
Let's hit on the biggest chance to interrupt this grouping - Manny Machado. In the unlikely event the Yankees get back into the running for the infielder, there would indeed be a ripple effect forcing Andujar to find reps at first base or as the DH.
Voit has the upper hand over Greg Bird, though if the left-handed hitting Bird has a monster spring and Voit comes back to Earth, the hierarchy could change in a heartbeat. That is especially important with the Yankees heavily right-handed hitting roster.
What are the chances that Tulowitzki actually makes it out of Spring Training healthy? If recent history serves, the answer is not good, making 24-year-old Tyler Wade's spring very important.
Finally, Frazier is gunning for Gardner's job. But, if we know the Yankees, Gardner is going to have to be hurt to not start in left field on Opening Day.
- DJ LeMahieu, INF
- Austin Romine, C
- Clint Frazier, OF
Spring Training Battles: The final spot could come down to health with Bird, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Frazier likely to be the last men standing (literally and figuratively).
LeMahieu is set to be the Swiss Army knife in the infield, and Romine is a shoe-in as Sanchez's backup behind the plate.
The Yankees are paying Ellsbury over $21 million, so if he's upright, he'll be the outfielder on the bench. If he is unable to play, that gives Frazier a better shot of making the squad and that's what we see happening here.
Keep in mind, it will be difficult for the Yankees to ignore Bird's left-handed bat if he loses the first base job to Voit. Bird has a much better chance of being a bench player if the Yanks carry just seven men in the bullpen.