After yesterday’s changes, the Yankees 40-man roster stands at 39. That leaves one open spot for any free agent additions the Yankees make this offseason, it also leaves just one open spot for any trade that adds more players than it takes away. In other words: Chances are, the Yankees are going to have to open a few roster spots this winter.
These spots could be vulnerable.
It looks like this is a lost contract. After having shoulder surgery late last season, it seems Feliciano will not pitch a single inning during his two year deal with the Yankees. The team can’t put him on the 60-day disabled list until spring training, but they could go ahead and DFA him to open a spot on the 40-man. It’s worth noting that they could have done the same with Damaso Marte last winter and chose not to. If there’s the slightest chance Feliciano could pitch this year, the Yankees might hold out hope and hold onto him.
Unless the Yankees are able to swing a trade, there really aren’t many pitchers on the roster who they could easily lose. Dellin Betances is obviously not a DFA candidate, Cory Wade pitched very well last season, George Kontos emerged as a cheap long relief candidate and both David Phelps and D.J. Mitchell were just added. Of the 17 pitchers on the 40-man, Whelan might be the most vulnerable. He had a terrific Triple-A season — a breakout of sorts — but the Yankees didn’t give him a September call-up and quickly sent him back down after his mid-season promotion. Makes you wonder how much of a future they see in him.
Let me start by saying that in no way do I believe the Yankees want to DFA Laird, and in no way do I believe he’s at risk of being DFA. That said, the Yankees are now carrying nine infielders on their roster, and five of them — including Eduardo Nunez — are more like utility bench candidates. That’s a lot of spots to devote to such a limited role, especially when you think Eric Chavez is a candidate to return. If the Yankees had to DFA one infielder, who would it be? Nunez has a big league job, David Adams and Corban Joseph were just added and would surely be claimed, Pena is their only real shortstop option after Nunez and Laird is a good bat coming off a so-so year.
Greg Golson or Justin Maxwell
Only because they’re out of options, and the Yankees also have Chris Dickerson as an out-of-options outfielder who could compete for a bench role this spring. Both Golson and Maxwell have some big league time, and Maxwell was having a strong Triple-A season before he got hurt this year, but the Yankees aren’t going to have enough roster spots to keep all three of Golson, Maxwell and Dickerson on the 40-man roster throughout the season. If they had to open a spot, they could prioritize and pick which one(s) they want to truly look at in spring training.
As it stands, Curtis is the only Triple-A outfielder who’s on the 40-man and can be shipped to the minors. He’s also a guy who can play all three outfield spots and could certainly play a bench role during the season. There is obvious value in that, but he’s also coming off a lost year, and the Yankees could take their chances on getting Curtis through waivers. Not an ideal situation since the team could lose Dickerson, Golson and Maxwell, but it’s certainly an option. Curtis is playing pretty well in winter ball as we speak. Melky Mesa is a similar situation. He has options — and upside — but he didn’t play like a big leaguer down in Double-A this season.