Four spots in the rotation are set, so are eight places in the lineup. The bench and bullpen roles are largely locked up or have heavy favorites. It more or less goes without saying that the final bench spot and the final bullpen role will be decided in camp, but these seem to be the four biggest battles as the Yankees move closer to spring training.
Favorite: Brett Gardner
Competition: Randy Winn
Wild card: Non-roster invites
Whether it’s left field or center field, the Yankees seem ready to give Gardner an everyday job, or at least a regular role at the bottom of the lineup. Winn is positioned as the fourth outfielder who could fight for regular playing time, and the Yankees could bring in an extra right-handed hitter — someone like Marcus Thames or Rocco Baldelli — to compete on a minor league deal.
Favorite: Joba Chamberlain
Competition: Phil Hughes
Wild card: Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, Alfredo Aceves
Chamberlain opened last season in the rotation, so he earns the “favorite” label. In reality, it seems likely that this is an open competition between Chamberlain and Hughes. A group of long relievers/spot starters could compete for a starting spot, but they seem more likely to open in the bullpen.
Favorite: Ramiro Pena
Competition: Kevin Russo
Wild card: Reegie Corona, Eduardo Nunez
Pena had the job last season, and he’s the only utility candidate with any big league experience. Russo is coming off a terrific Triple-A season and Corona has speed and versatility. There still seems to be a chance that the Yankees could go after a veteran utility candidate.
Favorite: Boone Logan
Competition: Royce Ring
Wild card: Wilkin De La Rosa, Kei Igawa
The Yankees lost Phil Coke and Mike Dunn this winter. Assuming they carry a second lefty beyond Damaso Marte, their best bet is probably recent addition Logan. Ring is coming to camp on a minor league deal. De La Rosa and Igawa are most likely heading back to the minors.