In baseball, there is hardly ever too much of a good thing. Too many homers? No such thing. Too much starting pitching? No such thing. Too many good players? No such thing. But that last one can make roster situations a bit complicated and the Yankees are about to run into that.
Even if they let Didi Gregorius leave in free agency–which both Randy and I think would be a mistake–the infield in the Bronx will be crowded. Both Gio Urshela and the returning Miguel Andujar can man third base. Greg Bird’s departure still leaves two first base options in Luke Voit and Mike Ford. Both Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu are givens here; their spots are not in any sort of question. But a question does remain with the others: what exactly should the Yankees do with them?
There is a possibility that the Yankees keep all six on the 25 man roster. That would mean, however, that the two non-starting players would take up most of the bench, especially since the Yankees like running with a three man bench. That preference makes this scenario unlikely because, aside from the backup catcher, they’d need room for a fourth outfielder. None of those players belong anywhere near the outfield.
The other fly in the infield ointment is that of the players they currently have–not including the heretofore unmentioned Tyler Wade–only Gleyber Torres can play shortstop. No team is going to carry just one reliable shortstop. Whether it’s Didi, Wade, or someone else, the Yankees will need to have someone else able to play short; that will push someone off the 25 man roster.
Alleviating this ‘pressure’ by having everyone around probably isn’t going to happen. So what can they do?
They can delay. Miguel Andujar could start the year in the minors on a rehab assignment. That takes care of one. To further kick the can down the road, Mike Ford has two options left, according to Roster Resource at Fan Graphs. Gio Urshela doesn’t have options left, so that defaults him to be the starting third baseman.
There’s also the instinct to make a trade, but I don’t think there’s going to be much value there. While Urshela’s value has never been higher, I don’t think there’d be a market for him, given how fluky last year was for him and there’s no way we’ll know if he can repeat it until he does. Mike Ford is what he is–a late 20’s, LHB first baseman with power–not exactly rare or extremely valuable. Luke Voit is likely more valuable to the Yankees as their starting first baseman than he is as a trade chip.
Andujar has the most trade value of the bunch by far. He’s the youngest, probably has the biggest upside, and with his value slightly depressed from his injury and missed year, I’m sure some team would want to get a bargain for him. But he’s far too much of a variable at this point when you add in his poor defense at third. While it might be a challenge to incorporate him later, he, like Voit, is probably most valuable to the Yankees as a player than as a chip.
Depth helped the Yankees win over 100 games in 2019 and it will help them do the same in 2020. While there’s going to be some juggling involved, it’s necessary juggling.