Yankees’ surprise Joely Rodriguez signing hints trade is coming


Consider the New York Yankees‘ 40-man roster entirely filled!

So we’re ready for Opening Day now, right? Well … no. Not even close. A lot has to change, and it has to happen as quickly as Nov. 19.

That’s when MLB has set a deadline for adding prospects to the 40-man rosters, lest you lose them in the Rule 5 Draft, Garrett Whitlock-style.

Entering Wednesday night, the Yankees’ 40-man sat at 39 men after a series of 60-Day IL activations — players like Zack Britton and Darren O’Day, who were hidden on the injured list for much of the second half.

In order to protect the players they want to protect, a significant shuffle was already necessary — and that was before the Yankees brought back the recently-released Joely Rodriguez in the dead of night.

Rodriguez will get $2 million on a one-year contract instead of the $3 million previously owed to him. For some reason, the Texas Rangers will cover the $500K of his option buyout.

Wait, the New York Yankees signed Joely Rodriguez?

There are certainly advantages to bringing Rodriguez back after his second-half cameo in the Bronx. Though he’s mostly effective lefty-on-lefty and isn’t quite as valuable for 2021 and beyond as he would’ve been in the previous era of the game, he had a stretch of dominance in the Bronx.

As Max Goodman pointed out, he put up a 1.35 ERA over a 17-game stretch in August, and his chase rate is an elite, 97th-percentile mark. He can be an extremely useful pitcher, especially over a long season.

He really did gum up the works by coming back this week, though. Rodriguez’s return clogs up the 40-man and fills it to the brim, with several enticing prospects still yet to be added before the vultures arrive. Bullpen favorites Stephen Ridings and Ron Marinaccio remain available for anybody next week, unless the Yankees hustle. Other prospects on the loose include catcher Josh Breaux, outfielders Everson Pereira and Brandon Lockridge, and starter Matt Sauer — that’s why Breaux’s been such a hot (and assumed) trade piece, especially after the 40-man addition of Donny Sands last week.

The Yankees aren’t going to protect all these players, but they are going to add some of them. That’s what makes a trade — major or minor — feel almost assured ahead of that Nov. 19 deadline. New York still has to clear a lot of room, which makes you suspicious about a potential four-for-one Matt Olson package moving pretty swiftly.

The Bombers cleared some 40-man roster decisions this summer when they traded mostly-eligible pieces for Joey Gallo (sorry, Ezequiel Duran!), and they seem poised to do it again in the next few days.

Now that they’re back at the 40-player limit, they basically have no choice, unless they want to lose more talent for free.