How Could the Yankees Best Use a 26th Roster Spot?


If Major League Baseball expands active rosters to 26 players as recent reports suggest, how should the New York Yankees use their additional flexibility in 2017?

A number of issues currently being hammered out in the new collective bargaining agreement will affect the offseason strategy New York Yankees, which may be why they and other MLB clubs are holding off making major moves until they have a clearer idea of the changes that will be implemented.

From what we’ve heard, it seems very likely that the next CBA will institute a draft for international free agents and raise the luxury tax ceiling. The most recent update on negotiations from Tyler Kepner of The New York Times reveals that another key change could be expanding the active roster from 25 to 26 players. In exchange, the union would agree to cap expanded September rosters at 28 or 29 players.

While one additional spot doesn’t sound like a lot, it could provide teams with additional flexibility to experiment with roster construction, particularly with their pitching staff. Several MLB clubs, including the Yankees, have experimented with six-man rotations in recent years, and the ability to carry an additional starter without sacrificing depth in other areas could now make this approach more viable.

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A better fit for the Yankees as currently constructed might be piggy-backing starting pitchers to avoid having them face an opposing lineup more than twice. Luis Severino stands out as a guy who could benefit from having a regular caddy like Adam Warren or Chad Green.

I’d much rather have two of those guys each give me three innings than count on any of them for six. This extra roster spot definitely makes it easier to try things like that out.

It is worth noting that the Yankees already seemed to have some redundant players on their roster in 2016. As Mike Axisa of River Avenue Blues recently pointed out, there was a span of 66 games from late May to early August where Richard Bleier made just 13 appearances despite being on the roster for that entire stretch.

Similarly, Ronald Torreyes saw very little action as the utility infielder for the majority of 2016. Axisa notes a span of 37 games from late May to July 1st where Torreyes appeared in just seven contests.

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Another apparent drawback of having an additional player on the roster is that it will counteract commissioner Rob Manfred’s efforts to speed up the game. An extra reliever or pinch-hitter means more pitching changes and late-game machinations. Personally, I love the additional strategy that comes with having more options, but I can understand the frustration of some fans.