The Yankees have a glut of players on the IL that they’re counting on returning in the next month.
That also means the team has to find ways to get players at-bats, innings and roster spots. On the latter part, that’s only an issue for 60-day IL players as those still on the 40-man can come back any time after Sept. 1 without issue.
But here’s a breakdown of who’s potentially coming back, who’s on the chopping block and the methods to get players up to speed:
Players Expected Back
Here is the Yankees’ current 10-day and 60-day IL:
10-day: David Hale, Jonathan Holder, Stephen Tarpley, Edwin Encarnacion, Thairo Estrada, Luke Voit and Aaron Hicks
60-day: Jake Barrett, Dellin Betances, Ben Heller, Jordan Montgomery, Luis Severino, Miguel Andujar, Greg Bird, Jacoby Ellsbury and Giancarlo Stanton
Of those players, I suspect Barrett, Bird and Ellsbury aren’t candidates to return in addition to Andujar, who underwent season-ending surgery months ago. On the 10-day IL, Encarnacion, Voit and Hicks are the key names who could contribute in the postseason, while Betances, Severino and Stanton are key from the 60-day.
Voit appears the next to return as he’s set to start a rehab stint in Triple-A and come back right around Sept. 1.
“I can take my time,” Voit told Conor Foley. “That’s the good thing about where we’re at in the division is we’ve got a big lead. I’m more worried about my at-bats getting ready for October. It would kill me if I couldn’t play in October.
After him, the Yankees haven’t given updates recently on Encarnacion. Hicks has yet to start throwing again, so he’s at best an early-September return. Betances and Severino have thrown bullpen sessions and are near the point of facing hitters/beginning rehab stints, but for both players who’ve missed the entire season, that’s a big barrier to pass.
Stanton, meanwhile, is with the Yankees in Oakland and the team hopes he will be able to ramp up his work soon. Heller restarted his Triple-A rehab stint on Aug. 17, though he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery and can’t be counted upon. Same goes for Jordan Montgomery, who started throwing again after his summer setback.
The Chopping Block
With Severino, Betances, Stanton, Heller and Montgomery, the Yankees could have to open as many as five 40-man spots in the next month. Heller and Montgomery seems to be further off and/or unlikely to pitch in October, though Heller is in Triple-A at the moment.
So the Yankees have to have up to five players they’d be willing to cut from the 40-man. They have to be planning this anyway with players coming off the 60-day IL after the season and protecting players from the Rule 5 Draft.
So here’s my estimation of who could be DFA’d, in order of likelihood:
- Ryan Dull
- Adonis Rosa
- Domingo Acevedo
- Breyvic Valera/Chance Adams
- David Hale/Ben Heller/Stephen Tarpley
Dull and Rosa are the most obvious as the most recent additions to the 40-man. Dull seems like just around as an optionable reliever (with some upside) while Rosa is a fresh arm but may not have an MLB future.
For Acevedo, the 25-year-old has scuffled in Triple-A as a full-time reliever and still seems a bit away from the Majors. Even if he isn’t on the chopping block this September, the 6-foot-7 righty likely is come the offseason.
After that, it’s a crapshoot. All five of those remaining players could contribute to the team in September as depth. Heller wouldn’t be the first player to be DFA’d after coming off the 60-man, as the Yankees may not think he can contribute. It’s unlikely, though. Adams, meanwhile, is intriguing as he used to have prospect hype, yet he’s proven ineffective in the Majors thus far.
If you’re good enough, teams will find you playing time in the Majors. This isn’t what that’s about. When they’re MLB-ready, all of the key injured players will have the room in September to get all the at-bats/innings they can play to get set for October.
But say you have a player ready to start a rehab on Sept. 1. Where are they going to play? Sept. 2 is Labor Day and the end to the Minor League regular season.
Players can rehab with MiLB teams in the postseason. As of now, only the Trenton Thunder are guaranteed a postseason berth. Though players are unlikely to be sent to Pulaski, the P-Yanks are almost assured of a postseason berth. Beyond them, Scranton holds a narrow division lead while Tampa is two games back with a couple weeks to go.
Otherwise, players will have to skip a rehab assignment or work in simulated games. Neither of those is ideal. There won’t be that many MiLB postseason games to play, anyway, so simulated games would be the likely route.
If one of the players needs a rehab assignment in late September, the Yankees have an intriguing option: The Arizona Fall League. The AFL moved its schedule up to start on Sept. 18 and has lessened players restrictions. The Yankees hope to have players back well before Sept. 18 and not have to send players across the country for the rehab assignment, but it’s an option nonetheless.