Yankees fans should watch surprise pitcher at 40-man roster deadline

LAKELAND, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Addison Russ #69 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches during the Spring Training game against the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on February 22, 2020 in Lakeland, Florida. The game ended in an 8-8 tie. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
LAKELAND, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Addison Russ #69 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches during the Spring Training game against the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on February 22, 2020 in Lakeland, Florida. The game ended in an 8-8 tie. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Yankees might protect Addison Russ, a surprise relief prospect, when the 40-man roster deadline arrives.

The Yankees have several prospects to protect on their 40-man roster before the looming deadline, which arrives at 6 p.m. EST on Friday, 11/20.

Currently, the team’s roster sits at 36, meaning that four of these transactions can be made without any sort of corresponding tough decision on the other side of things. Top prospects who require protection ahead of the Rule 5 draft include Oswald Peraza (MLB Pipeline’s No. 4 prospect), as well as starters Roansy Contreras, Alexander Vizcaino, and Yoendrys Gomez.

None of these players are particularly likely to stick on someone else’s MLB roster for the full season required to complete the process of the steal, but you can never be too careful; of course, the Yankees have been burned before, losing catching prospect Luis Torrens to the Padres in an absurd and unjustifiable move a few years back. He was forced to ride the pine for an entire season of his development at 20 years old, so, congrats, San Diego?

Some vulnerable Yankees will be jettisoned off the roster to create more room, though, like the rehabbing Ben Heller, and New York might opt to replace him with an MLB-ready reliever. Recent Twitter speculation has centered around one name: Addison Russ, acquired from the Phillies midway through 2020 in exchange for David Hale.

Russ, best known by Yankees fans for briefly ruining their day on Aug. 21 by being mistaken for disgraced Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, is a power reliever in an impressive package, sporting a splitter that reportedly made Bryce Harper blush at Spring Training. He also showed out all summer long at the Alternate Site, but never received the call he was hoping for.

He could be an unheralded weapon, and fans who grew aggravated by those like Heller, Brooks Kriske and Jonathan Holder, who’ve long worn out their welcome on the Scranton Shuttle, might feel better with a new face in the middle relief corps.

This maneuver seems all the more likely considering someone like Luis Cessa, due for an arbitration raise, might lose his job in the coming weeks.

If the Yankees can find a way to clear adequate roster space to accommodate all parties, then this move will be a shoe-in.