This is the last weekend before Christmas, which means it’s probably time to expect a quiet offseason to grow silent for a few days. It’s not a given — something could happen in these next few days — but it seems like a fair time to take a look at where the roster stands.
One year ago, the Yankees still had Jesus Montero as their projected designated hitter. They had A.J. Burnett in the rotation, Ivan Nova projected as their No. 2 starter, and a guy named Brad Meyers was still in the mix for the bullpen.
A little less than two months ago, Alex Rodriguez was still the starting third baseman, Chris Dickerson was the best option in right field and Adam Warren was penciled into the rotation.
Here’s a potential 25-man roster, based on players under contract today.
I’m still guessing that Gardner will shift to center field next season, and think it’s entirely possible that we’ll see Nunez playing some part in the DH situation (though do I think the Yankees will sign someone to take most of those at-bats). I also expect the Yankees to sign some sort of veteran catcher at some point — at least a non-roster invite just to compete for the job — but if they do stay in-house, my mind has shifted a few times between expecting Romine to get the job and expecting one of the defensive backups to get it.
Chris Stewart C
Jayson Nix INF
Chris Dickerson OF
Ronnier Mustelier 3B/OF
Even though he doesn’t hit right-handed, Dickerson seems to be the clear option for the fourth outfielder right now. But I’m sure that’ll change. As for Mustelier, I still don’t have a good feel for just how seriously the Yankees would take him as a big league option out of spring training. He’s a right-handed hitter who can play the corners — which means he could have some value on this roster — but it’s a matter of the Yankees believing he can handle the job defensively and offensively. He’s never so much as been invited to big league camp.
This is the biggest change since I last did this sort of “as it is today” post. By re-signing Kuroda and Pettitte, the Yankees have essentially locked up their top four starters. The fifth spot should be a competition between Nova and David Phelps. There’s a solid chance that I’m giving it Nova right now largely because Phelps seems to be the more natural fit in the bullpen. If Phelps proves he’s better in spring training, I don’t think the Yankees would hesitate to go with him.
Assuming Phelps doesn’t land in the rotation, I would actually consider these seven to be pretty heavy favorites for the Opening Day bullpen. Cody Eppley was good last year, but he has options remaining. Cesar Cabral could compete for a spot, but he might not be healthy in time to break camp. The biggest unknown here is probably Aardsma. His track record is strong, but he didn’t have time to show much last season when he was coming back from Tommy John. He and Chamberlain could be the make-or-break pieces that determine whether the Yankees have a dominant bullpen or have to go searching for mid-season help.
Associated Press photos