Good news, Yankees fans: Minor League Baseball is up and running while MLB slumbers, giving you a chance to watch all your favorite prospects play in April (as God intended).
Bad news, Yankees fans: not all your favorite prospects are eligible to play right now, thanks to an unfortunate quirk they couldn’t have possibly seen coming.
Remember back in mid-November when the whole world wondered how the Yanks planned to clear space for their large number of 40-man eligible prospects, only for a way-too-long pause to make everyone think they’d forgotten to do so, exposing four or five names to the Rule 5 Draft?
Then, as the clock struck, Clint Frazier, Rougned Odor and Tyler Wade were jettisoned, while Donny Sands and Nick Nelson were shipped to Philly, allowing several prized upper-level pitching prospects and versatile infielder Oswaldo Cabrera to land safely on the big-league roster.
Or so they thought.
Thanks to the MLB Lockout, that Rule 5 Draft still has yet to happen, and the now-safe names who were added to the Yankees’ 40-man (thanks to their technical status as MLB players) are banned from playing minor-league games until this is all over.
Yankees prospects, like Oswaldo Cabrera, are in limbo during MLB Lockout.
Anthony Volpe and Jasson Dominguez, currently in Florida participating at minicamp, will be free to roam about the cabin when the minor-league season begins in April, likely reporting to Double-A Somerset and Single-A Tampa.
But Cabrera, thought to be a possibility to break camp with the Yankees (and someone we’ve argued would lose out on a chance to impress with every axed Spring Training game), must remain inactive for the duration of the lockout even though he hasn’t accrued a minute of genuine service time.
Ditto Everson Pereira, who only climbed as high as High-A Hudson Valley last year, and had to be protected due to how long he’d spent in the Yankees’ system. He is nothing close to a major-league player right now, but is being treated like one in the eyes of the lockout.
If you were hoping to take a look at the promising bullpen arms the Yankees protected, you’d better hope for some Instagram videos shot through a chain-link fence.
No. 3 prospect Oswald Peraza, too, is shadow banned; he was protected from a previous year’s Rule 5.
The joy of minor-league baseball will still resume as scheduled, a rare silver lining in the frozen tundra.
However, several important Yankees names will be legally absent through no fault of their own, another hidden consequence of these lagging discussions.