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.