Yankees add catcher and lose lefty reliever in 40-man roster shuffle


On Friday, the 2021-22 New York Yankees offseason began in earnest when several fringe players ended up on waivers, claimed by teams throughout the league looking to “pull a Garrett Whitlock”.

In the interest of clearing up 40-man spots with a big offseason ahead of all of us, the Yankees lost Greg Allen to the Pirates, Tim Locastro to the Red Sox and Andrew Velazquez to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. It was annoying, but it was a necessity — after all, the Bombers had to clear up several roster spots to accommodate players on the 60-Day IL (like Luke Voit and Zack Britton), not to mention the additions who are surely coming.

On Sunday night, right when the qualifying offer news dropped, the carnage continued.

Left-hander Joely Rodriguez, who managed to survive in the Bombers’ bullpen towards the end of the season despite having throwback splits and being unable to retire righties, saw his $3 million club option declined. Instead, New York will toss $500K buyout money his way.

In more positive news, the Bombers have added catcher Donny Sands to their 40-man crew, protecting him from the upcoming Rule 5 draft.

That’s a massive promotion for Sands, the 25-year-old catcher who hit for power all year long at Double-A Somerset. At the very least, the organization wants some more time to evaluate him.

The Yankees will protect Donny Sands and jettison Joely Rodriguez.

Perhaps Rodriguez ends up returning to the Yankees on a cheaper deal. After all, he was quite effective with the Bombers, despite posting an elevated WHIP (1.421 in 19 innings, alongside 21 hits and 17 strikeouts).

However, the Yanks needed to slice rostered players somewhere, and they clearly prefer Wandy Peralta, who’s far more effective at retiring opposite-side batters than Rodriguez is. If this is the end, we thank him for his post-Gallo-trade service.

The addition of Sands, who bashed 18 homers in 341 minor-league at-bats last season, marks a meteoric rise for the former eighth-round pick in 2018, who was homeless at a point during his high school career following the death of his father. This designation makes it seem like the Yankees are comfortable with Sands as their third-string option, meaning he’s leapfrogged former second-rounder Josh Breaux, who now seems likely to either be traded or lost for nothing in the Rule 5 shuffle.

Also…and we hope this isn’t true…it seems Stephen Ridings, who lit the Bombers’ bullpen on fire towards the end of the campaign, is also unprotected. Does this mean his elbow injury is more serious than the team let on? Might they still come to an agreement there that satisfies all parties?

We’ll wait for more information on Ridings before getting upset about more organizational negligence.

For now, let’s celebrate the rise of Sands, who very well might make a well-deserved MLB impact next year.