Minor league free agency and the 40-man roster

I missed something when I put together the offseason calendar a couple of weeks ago: minor league free agency. Big whoop, I know. Still, the Yankees have a number of minor league free agents (as does every team), but they might actually add one or two of them to the 40-man roster before they file for free agency. Here’s a non-wholly inclusive list of Yankees minor leaguers eligible for free agency:

PlayerPositionHighest LevelAlt Site
Domingo AcevedoRHPAAAYes
Angel AguilarINFAANo
Daniel AlvarezRHPAAAYes
Kellin DeglanCAAANo
Chris Gittens1B/DHAAANo
Nick GreenRHPAAANo
Welfrin MateoIFAANo
Thomas MiloneOFAANo
Leonardo MolinaOFA+No
Eduardo NavasCAANo
Anderson SeverinoLHPAAANo

You may be familiar with some of these players, but these aren’t exactly exciting names. So, why am I bringing this up now, when the big fish free agents (i.e. DJ LeMahieu) are about to file in the coming days? Mainly, I suspect that teams are going to be a tad more aggressive in handing out 40-man spots to minor league free agents this year. Especially with all of the claims of significant financial losses around the league. So, if the Yankees really like one of these individuals, they will likely add them to the roster shortly to prevent the other 29 teams from calling.

Now, it’s not just the financial circumstances that matter here. This wouldn’t be the first time the Yankees added one of the organization’s impending internal minor league free agents to the 40-man. The team did this with Jake Cave right after the 2017 World Series.

With that out of the way, allow me to provide a brief snippet on each minor leaguer eligible to hit the open market.

Domingo Acevedo actually has one day of Major League service time with the Yankees, though he didn’t pitch. The Yankees pulled the ol’ release-and-re-sign to a minor league deal with Acevedo last summer, but he can now hit the open market should he choose. He’s one of the two players on the list who were at the Alternate Site, so the team must like something, especially after he was said to have lost velocity.

Angel Aguilar was a strong rookie level performer five years ago and got some mild prospect attention, but he simply cannot hit. The 25 year-old posted a .217/.255/.357 (77 wRC+) at Double-A in 2019.

Daniel Alvarez is another righty who was at the Alternate Site this summer. He was quite good in Trenton’s bullpen last year, racking up a 31.4 percent strikeout rate and 2.31 ERA in 58 1/3 innings pitched. Baseball Prospectus’s Jarret Seidler saw him at Trenton last year and gave him a 40 projection on the 20-80 scale and that he has a good shot to pitch in the majors. If the 24 year-old held his own at the Alternate Site this summer, maybe he’ll hop on the 40-man roster.

Kellin Deglan has been catcher depth in the organization since 2018. This isn’t his first time becoming a minor league free agent. He’s not a serious contender for 40-man space.

Chris Gittens won the Eastern League MVP last season. As a right-handed first baseman at 26 years of age who was not around the big leaguers this summer, it’s hard to imagine him on the 40-man even with his massive raw power.

Nick Green was selected in the Rule 5 draft for the 2019 season by the Diamondbacks, but was ultimately returned to the Yankees before the end of camp. He pitched pretty poorly between High-A and Double-A last summer. Green was one of the prospects acquired from Texas for Carlos Beltrán in 2016.

Welfrin Mateo is a 25 year-old infielder who barely played in Double-A last season (13 plate appearances). He had a pretty nice debut in rookie ball in 2014, but hasn’t found sustained success above that level. Mateo wasn’t a big bonus IFA either, for what it’s worth.

Thomas Milone signed with the Yankees as a minor league free agent last winter. He was previously with the Rays and was the organization’s third round pick way back in 2013. The outfielder was in big league camp this spring, but not invited to the Alternate Site.

Leonardo Molina was one of the Yankees’ big IFA signings. He nabbed $1.4 million out of the Dominican Republic, but simply hasn’t panned out. Most recently, the now 23 year-old hit .237/.283/.333 with the Tampa Yankees in 2019.

Eduardo Navas, a 24 year-old catcher, has never been a prospect of significance. Rather, he’s provided low minors catching depth. Aside from three games in Trenton last year, Navas has only spent time with the Charleston Riverdogs since 2016.

Anderson Severino is a 26 year-old southpaw who struggles to throw strikes. He topped out at High-A last year and walked 19, hit 5 batters, and uncorked 6 wild pitches in 27 1/3 innings pitched. He throws very hard, but is erratic.


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    Off topic
    Miggy, Sánchez and German will be playing winter ball for Toros in Dominican league

  2. DanGer

    Shame we didn’t get to see what Gittens could do at AAA this year.

    Ford AA (age 24) .272/.410/.451
    Ford AAA (25) .253/.327/.433

    Voit AA (25) .297/.372/.477
    Voit AAA (26) 327/.407/.565

    Gittens AA (25) .281/.393/.500

    Voit is clearly the better overall hitter of the bunch. Just some interesting comps to look at.

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