Position players report to camp tomorrow, and there’s not much intrigue surrounding their arrival. Now that Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez are signed to big league deals, every piece of the Yankees lineup and bench seems to be in place. Obviously injuries can happen, but even Joe Girardi has acknowledged that he has a pretty clear idea which position players are likely to make the Opening Day roster.
“You do,” Girardi said. “But I can’t tell you what’s going to happen, so I don’t want (everyone else) to feel like they don’t have a shot.”
Everyone else includes five players who might be big leagues or bust, and despite the odds being against them, Girardi has vowed to give them a “fair shake” to make the roster.
Chris Dickerson and Justin Maxwell fit the profile of fourth or fifth outfielders, but they’re also blocked by Ibanez and Andruw Jones. Both are out of options, so they can’t be sent to the minor leagues without first passing through waivers. If no roster spot opens because of injury or some other unforseen circumstance, both Dickerson and Maxwell could become trade options.
“Having played for five-plus years now, I’ve seen that in the past,” Maxwell said. “The only thing I can do is just worry about what I’m doing on the field and getting back to being 100 percent. Like Joe said, there’s always competition in spring training. Nothing’s set in stone. Just go out and play your game and, Lord willing, good things will happen.”
Russell Branyan, Bill Hall and Jayson Nix are all experienced big leaguers in camp on minor league deals. They all also have outs in their contracts that let them leave without actually going to the minors (not all three outs are unconditional, though I’m not sure which ones have special conditions attached). Branyan signed at a time when the Yankees had an opening for a left-handed designated hitter, and both Hall and Nix signed with hopes of winning a second utility job. Those spots have since been filled by Ibanez and Eric Chavez.
“They’re going to get a fair shake to try and make this club,” Girardi said. “That’s the bottom line. We’ll have to make some decisions, but I don’t see why someone couldn’t play their way on. I don’t. Do you have to make some moves if that’s to happen? Yeah, but I don’t see why they couldn’t.”