Yankees Need to Sort Out the 40-man Roster Mess


The Yankees have ’til Sunday at noon to finalize their roster for opening day. But with 10 more players to cut from camp, the balance of the 40-man roster is now a point of contention.

On Sunday, I wrote a piece that spoke to the reasons as to why Tyler Wade should be named the Yankees starting shortstop in Didi Gregorius‘ absence for the next four to six weeks.

Though many readers agreed, there were a few that argued his inclusion meant sacrificing a current player on the 40-man roster. While this is true, I decided to take a look at the players that find themselves on this all-important list to see where some of the fat could be trimmed — so a valuable piece like Wade could be added.

If you’re in the minority and think Pete Kozma is better suited to hold down the fort at short — well, he too needs to be added to the 40-man.

Keeping in mind that removing a player from the 40-man roster requires the team to designate said player for assignment (DFA) — the Yankees need to think long and hard as to whom they feel is expendable (should they be claimed).

Expendable Pitchers

Yefrey Ramirez‘s inclusion on the 40-man roster is a bit peculiar when you look at his scouting reports via Fangraphs.

"A minor-league Rule 5 pick in 2015, Ramirez was added to the Yankees’ 40-man roster in November. He locates his boring, low-90s fastball in on the hands of righties consistently and shows feel for manipulating his breaking-ball shape, mixing a two-plane slider look off the plate away from righties and a 12-6 curveball in the dirt. His changeup is below average, flashes a half-grade above that and scouts tend to think the breaking-ball/command combo is going to be his best weapon against left-handers. Ramirez throws a high-volume of strikes and profiles as a back-end or up-and-down starter.More from Yankees NewsYankees sign 2022 Red Sox reliever, invite him to spring trainingYankees trade Lucas Luetge for 2 intriguing Braves prospects after DFANever forget Miguel Andújar wrecked Yankees’ Nolan Arenado tradeDiamondbacks outfielder’s comment on Carlos Rodón’s IG raises eyebrowsAaron Judge Time interview scared Yankees as much as it scared you"

At this point in Ramirez’s development, and the breakout camp Jordan Montgomery has experienced this spring — adding Monty as a long reliever/spot starter not only makes sense for the 40-man roster but also potentially to the 25-man roster.

The Yankees have plenty of other mid-level right-handed relievers who are better suited for the majors if a bullpen spot were to open during the season, ie. Johnny Barbato, Giovanny Gallegos, and Ben Heller.

Expendable Infielders

I absolutely feel Rob Refsnyder needs a change of scenery if he ever wants to get his once promising career back on track. But the Yankees won’t just release him — he still holds a minuscule amount of value. We did hear whispers a few days ago that the Tampa Bay Rays were scouting the 26-year-old utility player.

A trade of Refsnyder would immediately open a coveted 40-man spot and make things easier on the front office, in regards to sorting out the opening day roster. But it remains to be seen what general manager Brian Cashman would require in exchange for Refsnyder.

Another scenario involves designating Ronald Torreyes. I get that he played well at times last season, filling in for Chase Headley — but of all the infield positions Torreyes plays, shortstop is his least impressive. Surely, Torreyes would be claimed by any number of clubs, but Wade’s ability to play stellar defense all across the infield — and even man an outfield spot or two, carries much more value.

The most painless move would be to DFA Chris Carter. It would appear that an insurance policy for Greg Bird is no longer applicable — I mean, have you seen Bird this spring! Carter, on the other hand, has been absolutely dreadful. In 47 at-bats, the 30-year-old Carter is hitting .128 with one home run and 25 strikeouts. He’s done nothing to earn a roster spot, outside of signing a $3.5M contract.

I say the Yankees should cut their ties with the all or nothing slugger. Matt Holliday can always fill in at first base if need be — and eventually, Tyler Austin will be back.

Expendable Outfielders

As much as some people would love to designate Jacoby Ellsbury, it’s not going to happen. And you can forget about casting off Aaron Hicks, who still has a legit shot at winning the right field job out of camp.

Plain and simple, Mason Williams and his constant battle with injuries are no longer worthy of a 40-man roster spot.

If this were 2014 — sure. But for all the intangibles Williams brings to the ballpark, we rarely get to see them. Though I’d try to get something for Williams via a trade, I’m not sure a team would give up more than a player to be named later.

Besides, Dustin Fowler and Billy McKinney looked stellar at times this spring and should be given first considerations in the event an outfielder at the Major League level goes down with an injury.

Short-term Solution

Should the Yankees ultimately decide they do not wish to jeopardize losing any of the aforementioned names, then the club could always move Austin to the 60-day disabled list — which would, in turn, open up his 40-man spot until he is healthy enough to return.

Austin, who hasn’t played since breaking a bone in his foot on Feb. 17, recently said he doesn’t expect to be back in action until mid-May.

Next: Stop With the Quintana Talk!

The only issue with undertaking this action is that it’s a short-term solution. Once Austin is ready to play, a roster spot must be immediately opened. Then it’s right back to square one.