Yankees finalize Opening Day roster

With Opening Day now just five days away, the Yankees have seemingly finalized their 25-man roster they will begin the season with.  In the wake of Jacoby Ellsbury's injury, Yankee manager Aaron Boone opted to go with a short three-man bench and instead carry an additional bullpen arm.  That spot went to Jonathan Holder as of this morning. New York will open the 2018 season with 12 position players and 13 pitchers.   

The only wrinkle in the current plan is the potential injury suffered by Greg Bird.  Bird was pulled from today's starting lineup against Atlanta.  More details on the injury will be announced following an MRI and CT Scan Bird will undergo later today. 

With the roster now settled, let's go position-by-position and break down the 2018 New York Yankees. 

Photo Credit: Lynn Sladky/AP Photo

Catcher – Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine 
There was never any competition here for the starting Catcher role. Gary Sanchez is a foundational piece of the next potential dynasty and, barring an injury, was never going to lose his spot.  Sanchez has also arguably been New York's best hitter all Spring.  Austin Romine chipped in a huge spring, particularly at the plate, to once again earn his role as the backup catcher. 
Just missed: Erik Kratz 

First Base – Greg Bird 
Bird has struggled in camp, unlike last year, and hopes to put the ghosts of 2016 and 2017 behind him.  You'll recall that Bird missed all of 2016 with a torn labrum and most of last season with an ankle/heel injury that required surgery.  Unfortunately, he looks to be headed down that same path again, and that's bad news for Yankees fans.  If he's able to stay healthy, he could be in for a monster season batting between Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. 

Again, the big mystery here is if Bird is injured and needs to spend time on the disabled list to open the season.  If so, look for the Yankees to turn to Tyler Austin, who was just optioned to AAA last week.  Austin put together a solid spring of his own and would fill the void left by Bird if he is forced to miss time. The Yankees could also bring back Adam Lind who was in camp until last week after requesting his release. Prospect Billy McKinney, who leads all Yankees in homers this spring, is not yet MLB ready.
Just missed: Tyler Austin, Billy McKinney, Adam Lind (released) 

Second Base - Tyler Wade, Neil Walker 
The battle for the Opening Day job was probably the most contested of any position for the Yankees this spring.  Gleyber Torres was given a look here as well, but the Yankees opted to have their top prospect get some more seasoning in the minors before he is called up.  Wade impressed the Yankees' coaching staff both offensively and defensively, and should be the Opening Day starting second baseman as the Yankees get Walker up to speed, having signed midway through camp.  Walker signed a one-year deal with New York and has impressed offensively so far. He, too, can provide insurance at first base if Bird requires DL time. 
Just missed: Jace Peterson, Danny Espinosa (released) 

Photo Credit: Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Shortstop – Didi Gregorius, Ronald Torreyes 
Unlike last season, when Didi missed roughly a month at the start of the season due to a shoulder injury, Gregorius will start on Opening Day at shortstop. Didi has gotten better and better since joining the Yankees in 2015 and he'll look to build upon a career year in 2017. Toe has been a mainstay on the New York bench since 2016 and should once again provide solid bench depth at all of the infield positions. 

Third Base – Brandon Drury 
Acquired at the start of camp from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Drury impressed in his first Spring Training with the Yankees. Drury provides the veteran stability Boone and Cashman sought at the corner infield position, rather than give the keys to an unknown in rookie Miguel Andujar.  Both Drury and Andujar have hit well in camp, but Aaron Boone cited Andujar's aggression at the plate as a reason for sending him to AAA to start the season. The Yankees see big things in Andujar, but they want him to work on patience in the minors. He will also spend roughly 20% of his time in Scranton learning first base, providing additional depth behind Bird. 
Just missed: Miguel Andujar 

Outfield – Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton 
New York will field the same three outfielders from last year's postseason plus, of course, the addition of the 2017 National League Most Valuable Player.  Gardner, Hicks, Judge & Stanton were all locks to make the roster and all managed to stay healthy and perform well this Spring.  Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier were in competition to join this crew as well, but both have missed significant time with injuries and will start the season on the disabled list. Young kids Estevan Florial & Rashad Crawford performed well in camp as well but are still a ways off from cracking the big league roster. Journeyman Shane Robinson was with the Yankees all spring but will not make the major league roster, either.
Just missed: Jacoby Ellsbury (injured), Clint Frazier (concussion), Estevan Florial 

Photo Credit: Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Starting Pitchers – Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery 
The Yankees will return the same five man rotation used last season.  Sabathia, who was a free agent after last season, returned on a one-year deal and Tanaka decided against opting out of his contract.  Only Tanaka struggled significantly in camp this spring, but had an encouraging outing against Boston yesterday.  Severino will make his first Opening Day start this Thursday in Toronto. Gray and Montgomery looked good as well and should be solid back-end rotation pieces.  One thing to watch this season is the innings load put on Severino and Montgomery after both threw career high innings last season. The Yankees considered giving Chad Green a shot at becoming a starter again, but ultimately chose against that idea. 
Just missed: Luis Cessa, Domingo German 

Relief Pitchers – Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Chad Green, Adam Warren, Chasen Shreve, Jonathan Holder 
No real surprises with this group. Chapman will once again be the Yankee closer and a committee of Roberton, Betances, Green & Kahnle will all play set-up roles.  Shreve is the only other lefty out of the bullpen and Adam Warren will again play his middle innings role he's flourished in since being re-acquired.  Holder won the last spot in this bullpen, beating out Cessa, German and Ben Heller.  The Yankees also gave chances to Wade LeBlanc, J.P. Feyereisen, David Hale, Cody Carroll and Giovanny Gallegos, but decided on the core group selected – all who spent significant time in the New York bullpen last season as well. 
Just missed: Ben Heller, Giovanny Gallegos, Wade LeBlanc (released) 

Article by: Andrew Natalizio


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