The New York Yankees added a few late entries to their roster mix at the tail end of free agency, which led us to speculate wildly about the future of Brett Gardner.
At the time, the 37-year-old was still flapping in the breeze, untethered to any team.
Turns out, we were concerned about the wrong veteran’s future.
Gardner secured his one-year deal just a few days after Jay Bruce and Derek Dietrich arrived in the bubble, but since that day, both men have proven to be more than just camp fodder; Bruce has been a spring training standout, while Dietrich revealed he’d been speaking to the Yankees for years prior to this engagement.
So, with just a few weeks before Opening Day … does either man stay? If so, who goes? Aaron Boone, usually tight-lipped, recently admitted the team’s hand had been forced by Bruce’s power show.
We suspect Bruce now has the inside track on one of the final bench spots, and a few Yankees have clearly lost favor with the organization in recent weeks. If not now, it seems like their chances of finding their way to another team have now become a matter of when.
If Bruce heads north to face the Blue Jays on Opening Day, he’ll need the 40-man roster spot of a lesser man. So will Dietrich, theoretically. In the not-so-distant future, a pitcher like Lucas Luetge might need one, too; he’ll be able to slide into Zack Britton’s after the lefty hits the 60-Day IL, but that hopefully won’t last forever.
As things stand, these three Yankees are certainly closer to losing their 40-man roster spot than they are to staying in the team’s plans, and one of them (at least) could be replaced by the end of next week.
These 3 Yankees could lose their 40-man roster spots shortly.
3. Mike Tauchman
We all loved the Sock Man in 2019, but Mike Tauchman is on borrowed time.
Unfortunately, like a high school quarterback, Tauchman may have already peaked.
In his ’19 season, which featured far more playing time than anyone anticipated, Tauchman posted a remarkable 2.6 WAR in 87 games played, as well as a .227 ISO and 128 wRC+. He was a far better hitter than a league-average ballplayer, fielded spectacularly, and brought an intangible presence to a fill-in role (while also putting up special peripherals).
And, after a moribund 2020 in which he struggled to make contact and hit for … well, just about the least power a person can hit for (.063 ISO, .305 SLG), most of the goodwill he accrued as an up-and-comer seems to have disappeared.
Bruce seemed an odd choice to spell the end of Gardner’s Yankees career; after all, was the team really prepared to replace a versatile outfielder with a short-porch power threat and potential first baseman?
Bruce replacing Tauchman makes a lot more sense.
Though the team had long lusted after Tauchman for his untapped potential, and though he’s controllable all the way through 2024, it still feels as if this marriage is the most likely one to end, perhaps in favor of two non-40-man mid-range prospects (or a prospect and a draft pick).