Who stays, who goes as Yankees continue to get healthy

The New York Yankees currently own a 35-19 record and a one game lead in the battle for first place in the American League East on May 29. They have been able to achieve this success all with Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino, and Dellin Betances combining to play in only 23 games.
Photo Credit: NY Post

Other notable players that have spent time on the Injured List:
     -Aaron Hicks
     -Gary Sanchez
     -Clint Frazier
     -Troy Tulowitzki
     -Greg Bird
     -Jonathan Loaisiga
     -James Paxton
     -CC Sabathia
     -Jordan Montgomery
     -Jacoby Ellsbury
     -Ben Heller

Much of this season's success is due to the unexpected performances by players who were not supposed to be a part of the major league team.

The current rash of injuries sustained by the Yankees will present management with yet another problem as these players eventually become healthy enough to join the 25-man roster.  Though the Yankees will be more than happy to welcome names like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius back to the starting lineup, they will face the difficult decisions as to who will remain with the big league club.

With James Paxton set to return Wednesday against the San Diego Padres, the Yankees optioned Joseph Harvey to Triple A. If/When another pitching move is necessary, Nestor Cortes Jr., and David Hale seem to be the pitchers most likely to be sent down to free up a spot.  While none of them have pitched significant innings this season, they are both expendable pieces of the pitching staff.

With Miguel Andujar electing for season-ending shoulder labrum repair surgery on May 13, Gio Urshela’s job on the major league roster was sealed for the rest of the season. Urshela’s clutch hitting and excellent defense has given the Yankees a solid option to replace the reigning runner-up AL Rookie of the Year. In 39 games this season, Urshela is 13-for-32 with 15 RBI with runners in scoring position, to go along with 4-for-4 with 8 RBI with the bases loaded.

When Gregorius returns to the team, a return that appears to be closer than we all expected, Thairo Estrada seems to be the one who would be sent down. Although Estrada has excelled in his 18 games with a .908 OPS, the middle-infielder would not have a role on the roster with a crowded infield.

CC Sabathia is now on his second IL stint of the season with right knee inflammation. Sabathia is not expected to miss significant time, as he is projected to only miss one or two starts.  His return would probably cost the likes of one of the remaining pitchers of Cortes and Hale.

With Giancarlo Stanton facing yet another setback to his return to the Yankees with a left calf strain, his return date is once again pushed back. When he does fully recover from his injuries, which if all goes well is mid-June, Kendrys Morales would most likely be the player who leaves the team. Morales’ current role as the designated hitter takes Stanton’s spot,  where he played 86 games last year. Especially with him returning from injury, the Yankees would want to use Stanton as the designated hitter as much as possible to avoid unnecessary wear and tear on his body.

Dellin Betances, who is hoping to return to the Yankees bullpen in mid-June, could take a roster spot away from a pitcher who has spent most of this season in the majors, assuming Hale and Cortes are sent down prior to his activation.

With no recent updates on Greg Bird, his potential to return any time soon, or possibly at any point this season, is doubtful. Luke Voit is proving that he is rightfully the starting first baseman for the Yankees, and there is no reason to rush Bird back.

If and when Troy Tulowitzki becomes healthy enough to return the the Yankees, he may not have a position to play. With a healthy Voit, LeMahieu, Gregorius, Torres, and Urshela, the infield is too crowded to add even a healthy 34-year-old Tulo. Because the Yankees are  paying such a small amount for him, there is no financial harm in releasing him.

Aaron Judge and Luis Severino are both expected to return to the Yankees in the second half, giving the team some time to plan out whose spot they will be taking on the roster. The current players also have time to prove why they should stay.

When Judge returns (hopefully) sometime in July, Cameron Maybin may find himself on the hot seat. He has made significant contributions to the team so far early in the early season, but when you get a player of Aaron Judge’s caliber returning to the team, the decision is evident.

Domingo German, the current major league leader in wins, is actually Luis Severino’s replacement in the Yankees’ starting rotation. This makes things much harder for the team as they will be hesitant to remove him from the rotation once Severino comes off of the IL. Although they are still a few months away from having to make this decision, the Yankees hope German continues this pace of dominance. When Severino does return, they may be forced to relocate another one of the starters to the bullpen in order to keep German in the rotation. This would necessitate sending a relief pitcher who may not be performing well during that time down to the minors, in order to make room on the roster. Two potential candidates for demotion could be Chad Green, Luis Cessa, or Jonathan Holder.

Jordan Montgomery is expected to return to the team in August coming back from Tommy John surgery. The smart move for the Yankees may be to wait until September 
to call him up to the majors when the rosters expand, avoiding another shuffling of the 25-man roster.

By: Bobby Jenkins


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