What’s left for the Yankees’ offseason as spring training nears

Is Gardner coming back?

Pitcher and catchers report to Tampa next week, but the Yankees still have a few loose ends to tie in the coming days. Let’s not waste any time and get right into the team’s to do list.

Clear a 40-man roster spot for Darren O’Day

It’s been nearly two weeks since the Yankees struck a deal with O’Day, but the move still hasn’t been made official. This isn’t the first time the Yankees have moved slowly announcing a free agent signing, of course. It took a few weeks for the DJ LeMahieu and Corey Kluber moves to be made official too.

Similar to the LeMahieu and Kluber situations, the impediment to announcing O’Day is a full 40-man roster. The front office is almost certainly working the phones and trying to swing a minor trade in order to make space. Better that than just DFAing someone.

The Yankees have a few candidates who could get the boot off the roster. I think Ben Heller is most likely to go, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Mike Ford, Greg Allen, or Albert Abreu got sent packing.

Figure out the Brett Gardner situation

Is he coming back or not? The Yanks and Gardner rekindled talks after LeMahieu returned, but nothing has come of it just yet. It sure feels like the Yankees are holding a hard line here, likely because they sense Gardner doesn’t want to play anywhere else.

Even though the Yankees appear to have negotiating leverage over Gardner, the team is also better off with him than without him. He’s a clear upgrade over Mike Tauchman and/or Greg Allen for the fourth outfielder role. We’ve clamored for others over Gardner earlier this offseason, namely Joc Pederson, but that ship has now sailed.

Ultimately, it’s hard to imagine this ending in anything other than a reunion. I expect the two sides to wrap things up in the coming week or so. Of course, that will leave the Yankees with yet another 40-man spot to clear (barring an unexpected minor league deal for Gardner).

Announce non-roster invitees

Teams have begun announcing their non-roster invitees to Spring Training, but the Yankees have yet to do so. That should come any day now. If you haven’t read it yet, Mike Axisa did a really good preview of anticipated invitees on the River Ave Blues Patreon. Now, I’m not going to copy and paste his predictions here (definitely worth subscribing to the Patreon!). However, I don’t think it’s any secret that all of the players the team has signed to minor league deals will be in big league camp. They are:

  • RHP: Jhoulys Chacin, Adam Warren, Matt Bowman, Luis Garcia, Lucas Luetge, Asher Wojciechowski, Kyle Barraclough, Reggie McClain
  • LHP: Tyler Lyons, Nestor Cortes
  • C: Rob Brantly, Kellin Deglan
  • IF: Andrew Velazquez
  • OF: Socrates Brito, Ryan LaMarre, Thomas Milone

So tack those names on to the 40-man players in big league camp. Plus, players like Chris Gittens (who’s been invited to camp before) figure to return.

It doesn’t seem like any big prospects will get the invite, though that’s more of a product of where many of them sit in the farm system right now. It’s not often that non 40-man players get invites if they haven’t reached Double-A yet, though this season could be different given the lost 2020 minor league season. Still, don’t get your hopes up for Jasson Dominguez. That’s not happening.

Add more depth

There are a lot of good free agents left! As good as the Yankees look, more depth never hurts. In particular, another middle infielder and a left-handed bat would be nice. More pitching would be great, too.

A few players come to mind: Brad Miller, Joe Panik, Marwin Gonzalez, and others could help on the infield side of things. In the outfield (aside from Gardner), Brian Goodwin could help. Live arms like Trevor Rosenthal and Shane Greene are still out there. Point is: there are still opportunities to get better. It’s possible that some of these guys could come on minor league deals too.


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  1. Mungo

    The Yankees seem to play the leak-signing-but-don’t-officially-announcing-signing game more than any other team, at least in recent years.I believe they did this with Gardner last year or the year before. Perhaps a minor technicality, but isn’t there some rule on the books that should prevent this type of maneuver?

    Related, I suspect the Yankees already have a verbal agreement with Gardner, but they’re not going to officially announce it until they can clear a space. They need two, although as the poster above noted, why not wait until the opening of camp next week to transfer Severino to the 60-day IL? I don’t see them jettisoning Heller if they have an agreement with Gardner. They’ll hold the arm and jettison Allen, or maybe they’re trying to work out a deal to move Tauchman.

  2. UnnamedSource

    If it is just 1 40-man roster space you are looking for, why not just wait 8 more days until “Spring Training presented by Camping World” begins on February 17th (and the 60 day IL button is activated) and move Luis Severino to the 60 day IL. The Yankees have waited this long to officially sign O’Day and/or Gardner, so how could 8 more days hurt. Waiting could avoid early jettisoning of1 player currently on the 40 man. Admittedly, if you need 2 spaces, the Yankees will have to do something else to clear the second space, but waiting for the 60 day IL to be activated still preserves 1 player contract.

    The Yankee signing of outfielder Michael Beltre to a minor league contract became public on 11/17/2020. He has played in AA previously.

    I think that pitcher Addison Russ will be a NRI to major league camp.

    I am not sure that just 4 catchers (Sanchez, Higgy, Brantly, and Deglan) can handle the full load of catching the throws of 30+ pitchers. Maybe add Max McDowell to the NRI list? And perhaps even Donny Sands. I noticed that the Yankees, in November, moved Donny Sands up to the AAA reserve list, thus protecting him from being taken in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. Therefore, it is a fair guess that the Yankees must see some “filler” role for Sands, even though the prospect bloom has long since faded.

    I agree that Reggie McClain is likely to be a NRI in 2021, but as a technical matter, he is not among “all of the players the team has signed to minor league deals . . .” The Yankees acquired McClain’s minor league contract from the Phillies in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft in December 2020. In the same draft, the Yankees acquired the minor league contract of pitcher Matt Krook from the Rays. Krook is not as advanced as McClain (experience wise) so I am uncertain as to whether Krook will get an invitation to major league camp.

    Matt Bowman may well be invited to the Camping World spring camp in 2021, but I doubt that he will be ready for any kind of competitive pitching since he just had his TJS in the fall of 2020. He has a 2 year minor league contract.

  3. I’m mixed on DFAing Mike Ford. He was great in 2019 and bad in 2020. Couldn’t they trade him for a young prospect?

  4. I feel like Ben Heller never got a real shot. He’s pitched 31 innings since they got him and he’s been fine. Why don’t they give him an extended shot this season? Tyler Wade should be the first to go and use Their as the backup.

    • DanGer


      Sept 2020 biceps tendinitis

      July 2019 forearm strain (rehab)

      March 2019 UCL

      April 2018 TJS

      April 2018 bone spur, elbow

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