The New York Yankees don’t have a roster crunch on their hands just yet, but they’ve already cleaned out the easiest moves they can make to clear 40-man space, transferring both Zack Britton and Domingo German to the 60-Day IL.
From hereon out, if the Yanks make an acquisition of any kind — or perhaps want to promote non-roster invitee Marwin Gonzalez to the Opening Day 28-man crew — they’ll have to make a somewhat difficult decision and DFA somebody.
That’ll be an issue. For all his faults, Brian Cashman fine-tuned this 40 with all your favorite prospects and relief options just before the Rule 5 deadline, losing Nick Nelson and Donny Sands to Philadelphia, as well as Clint Frazier, Rougned Odor, Andrew Velazquez and Tyler Wade.
That means this current group is now packed to the brim, and unless Cashman wants to suddenly risk Ron Marinaccio or JP Sears walking for nothing, he’ll probably have to pull off another trade in order to absorb a painful cut.
Hate to be the bearers of bad news here, but luckily, there’s also a silver lining. If New York has to slice anyone loose at this point, it’s likely because they made a meaningful upgrade. Cash will not be undoing his hard work just to bend over backwards for a middle relief signing or, God forbid, a last-minute Brett Gardner signing.
Of course, there’s always Marwin, too. It could … just be Marwin.
In the interest of full transparency and preparedness, these are the three current men on the Yankees’ 40-man roster who might not make it to Opening Day.
3 Yankees players on 40-man roster who could get DFA’d
3. Stephen Ridings
Losing Stephen Ridings for nothing, after so much anticipation and all the 100 MPH promise he showed in 2021, would be devastating.
But, on the surface, he’s the Yankees’ second-easiest cut at the moment. Why? He’s injured and out of action, the same way he was at the tail end of ’21 after his sterling debut.
Would another team take a chance on him? Almost certainly. But Ridings remains unable to pitch due to a back issue that’s kept him off the mound for nearly all of 2022 this far. Whenever he clocks in and begins his ramp up time, he’ll still be a ways away from helping the big-league club. After all, it’s not like he was terribly experienced before his MLB debut either, logging just 29 innings above A-ball (all with the 2021 Yanks at Somerset and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre).
That MLB debut … was sterling, though. In five innings, the flame-throwing substitute teacher with the shock of red hair whiffed seven and allowed just a single earned run. In a second half full of great stories, Ridings stood out as someone who could help down the stretch … before succumbing to a mysterious injury, of course, and losing his role to Michael King and Luis Severino.
The Yankees would love to have Ridings back this season, and took a chance on protecting him last November. If he can’t toe the rubber, though, they may have to reevaluate.