Yankees option Nestor Cortes Jr. to Triple-A, hold onto Cameron Maybin
With Aaron Judge set to return from the injured list on Friday, the Yankees had an interesting decision to make to clear up a spot for him on the roster. Despite his great play of late Cameron Maybin seems like the odd man out. However, the team opted to send down reliever Nestor Crtes Jr. and will roll with a 12-man pitching staff moving forward.
Over the past couple seasons, the Yankees have always kept 13 pitchers on the 25-man roster and three position players on their bench. That’s about to change because there was no way they were going to let go of Maybin after he’s played so well since joining the club back on April 26th.
In 41 games with the Yanks, Maybin has hit .308 with 5 HR, 14 RBI, and a .496 SLG %. On Wednesday his consecutive games streak with a home run stopped at four and over his last six games, he’s hitting .454. He’s one of the Yankees hottest hitters right now and they’re riding him during this stretch but once Judge makes his return there’s not going to be a path for him to continue to get consistent at-bats unless another outfielder gets hurt.
The same goes for Brett Gardner who’s been outplayed by Maybin this season but he isn’t in any danger of losing his roster spot given his status as the longest-tenured Yankee on the roster. Maybin is still in jeopardy of losing his spot at some point, but the Yankees smartly opted to hold onto him for now.
At least in the short term, sending Cortes Jr. down was a great way to keep Maybin on the roster. Thursday night Cortes Jr. came on in relief of opener Chad Green and pitched three innings throwing 57 pitches so he’s likely not going to be an option out of the pen for a couple of days.
Unlike Maybin, Cortes has options left so the Yankees sent him down and will roll with a four-man bench. Cortes Jr. has pitched very well for the Yanks as a long man out of the pen so his stay at Scranton shouldn’t be a long one but even when he gets called back up he shouldn’t take Maybin’s roster spot.
Once he returns another option for the Yanks would be to cut ties with struggling reliever Luis Cessa (5.73 ERA) and designate him for assignment. Cessa has had so many opportunities both as a starter and a reliever with this Yankee team since 2016 and he’s hasn’t been able to make the most of them. At times he’s shown flashes of potential with a high 90’s fastball and wipeout slider like he did in April. Although for the majority of the time he’s spent in the big leagues he’s been extremely inconsistent so it might be time to move on now that he’s out of minor league options.
Another route they could go to keep Maybin is by demoting reliever Jonathan Holder. Holder also has options remaining and after a breakout year in 2018, he’s really taken a step back this season, especially in June where he’s already allowed three home runs and pitched to a 6.43 ERA. Spending a couple of weeks in minors already did Chad Green wonders earlier in the season and it could do the same for him.
The problem for Maybin is the Yankees use their bullpen as much as any team in baseball and until Luis Severino comes back or they acquire another starter that will likely continue. Prior to this last turn through the rotation, the Yanks weren’t getting much length out of their starters at all so they were using all of their relievers pretty consistently.
They can get by without having a 13 man staff for a short stretch but for the rest of the season probably not. Only six teams in baseball carry 12 pitchers so that tells you how important bullpens are in today’s day and age.t
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The point is that even though the Yankees found a way to keep Maybin on the roster in the short term (as they should have) eventually they’re going to have to go back to having 13 pitchers. And out of all the position players on the roster, he’s the one who’s most likely to be let go. That being said, as we’ve seen throughout this season these decisions usually have a way of playing themselves out which is why it’s important to keep Maybin in the fold.
That’s because if the Yankees get rid of him and then the next day someone in the outfield gets injured they’re going to wish they had Maybin to fill in. I know they could always call Clint Frazier back up but it’s always good to have as many options as possible and if they DFA’ed Maybin another team would surely pick him up. Maybin’s also a much better defender than Frazier and has more experience contributing as a role player off the bench.
It’s a tough situation for everyone because Maybin has played so well and by all accounts, he’s made just as big of an impact in the clubhouse. He made it through the roster church this time around and as long as he keeps this up he’s earned the right to stay on it.