The 2022 New York Yankees may have shed some semi-valuable depth from their roster for little-to-no reason, but at least all of their Garrett Whitlock candidates will be sticking around this year! Silver linings.
The Bombers’ most recent roster shuffle of any kind came in late November (God, that lockout was ROUGH) when the team jettisoned Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade, Nick Nelson and Rougned Odor in order to make room for several new prospect additions to the 40-man roster.
Top-tier talent, like young Everson Pereira, got protected, as did upper-level relievers like Ron Marinaccio, who might’ve been stolen and stashed in someone else’s ‘pen if the Yankees hadn’t been proactive.
Overall, New York’s braintrust did a thorough job of preparing the roster to weather the storm of the Rule 5 Draft as best they could. After all, the Yankees have overflowing talent (hence, the Joey Gallo trade package) and MLB teams love to make their lives painful. Every year’s Rule 5 is a true lose-lose, and this year’s was set up to be an abnormally rough one, with several clocks ticking concurrently.
Of course, the MLB Lockout delayed the proceedings, but New York was still set to risk a few key pieces once the transaction freeze ended.
Except … on Thursday, the 2021-22 Rule 5 Draft was officially canceled, meaning the Yankees made all those preemptive moves for nothing and ended up way ahead of the curve on adding these possible call-ups to the 40-man.
Yankees benefit, eat turf because 2022 Rule 5 Draft was canceled
The negative impact is obvious. If not for a needlessly hasty roster shuffle, perhaps Tyler Wade would still be around? As the lockout wraps, he would be the best shortstop option on the Yankees’ current roster.
While Clint Frazier’s time in the Bronx was sadly up and Rougned Odor belongs elsewhere, Wade was a true depth loss; he was also starting to come into his own in 2021 offensively for the first time. It hurts to realize the decision to trade him was very much for naught.
The benefit? Though the Yankees did a relatively comprehensive job protecting possible bullpen options like Marinaccio, there are plenty of other live arms below the surface who are no longer at risk of being swiped.
Perhaps the most well-known name left unprotected was center field option Brandon Lockridge, who could’ve easily skated all season long as a 26th man and pinch-running specialist on someone else’s roster.
Now? There’s a decent chance he’ll get reps in center for the big-league Yankees, and they won’t need to sweat one final deadline before adding him to the depth chart.
In 2021, the 24-year-old Lockridge rounded into form when he hit Double-A Somerset, hitting .328 with 10 homers in 43 games (and swiping 13 additional bags).
When the Yankees need to look deeper than the 40-man, he’ll be an option for outfield reinforcement instead of sitting on San Diego’s bench. Not a bad tradeoff, even if someone like Wade had to head west semi-unnecessarily.