During most of Yankees Spring Training over the years there are not usually many open competitions for spots on the Opening Day roster.
Whenever there is one though, it seems as if the battle is fixed and there was already a set winner before Spring Training games even started. While that has seemed to be the case for Yankee camps in recent memory, this year has a little more open competition for Yankees players. Let’s take a closer look into the Spring Training battles taking place down in Tampa and my predictions for them.
For a while I was most certain that Sanchez had the backup catcher job locked down. He turned things around in the minors in 2015, crushed the ball in the Arizona Fall League and looked ready to take over the duties left by John Ryan Murphy after being traded to the Twins. But so far this Spring Training Austin Romine has been out producing Sanchez. Since Sanchez needs about another month in the minors to delay his free agency, it looks like a no brainer to have Romine start the season as the backup catcher.
Predicted Winner: Romine
Final Bench Spot
Since it is starting to look more likely that the final bench spot will go to somebody who can backup third base we can cross Parmelee and Heathcott off the list and leave us the last three. Refsnyder has actually been getting lots of work in at third base this spring as he has played more innings at third base in Spring Training games than second base. Refsnyder’s bat is MLB ready, but the question is if his defense can pass at third base when Chase Headley needs a day off. Unless the Yankees swoop in and pick up someone who can play third base between now and Opening Day I see Refsnyder getting his chance to prove himself at the hot corner.
Predicted Winner: Refsnyder
Final Three Bullpen Spots
With Aroldis Chapman suspended for the beginning of the season and Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova and Chasen Shreve all basically being locks, the bullpen currently has three spots that need to be filled. With Jacob Lindgren sent down to the minors it crosses off one bullpen candidate who I thought had a good chance on making the team when Spring Training started. For the first two spots I would have to give them to Rumbelow and Pinder based off of spring performances and the fact that both already have Major League innings under their belt. Mitchell is having a very good spring, but with Nova already in the bullpen as a long man I can see the Yankees sending Mitchell down to be kept stretched out. The final bullpen spot can change between now and Opening day based off of performances and injuries, but for now I would have to say the front runner for the spot is Tyler Olsen who is having a pretty good spring so far.
Predicted Winners: Rumbelow, Pinder, Olsen
Who do you think will win these position battles? Do you agree with these predictions? Let us know in the comments.