Perhaps this isn’t the young left-hander Yankees fans were expecting to see on the Opening Day roster after the way this spring played out, but thanks to baseball’s system of roster rules, this was always the likeliest option.
Now, all that’s left is hoping it works out — and hoping there aren’t too many high-leverage opportunities in the early going that somehow land on JP Sears‘ left arm before the kid gets his feet wet.
Even though Manny Bañuelos outperformed Sears out of nowhere — and earned the final spring start on Tuesday afternoon — the 26-year-old from The Citadel was clearly more highly-thought-of entering camp.
After being protected from the Rule 5 Draft last fall (a draft that never happened), Sears waltzed into camp with a 40-man roster spot, meaning no corresponding move would be necessitated by placing him in the final slot on the Opening Day roster.
After strutting off the mound completing his best outing of the spring on Monday — three innings, two hits, one walk, three whiffs against the Phillies — Aaron Boone told the kid he’d be making the trip north and could celebrate with his family.
In a corresponding move, Boone sent Luis Gil, Deivi Garcia and Bañuelos to Triple-A.
Yankees’ JP Sears makes Opening Day roster
Presumably, fans will see Bañuelos in the early going, especially after a shortened spring and offseason which (don’t kill the messenger) will probably lead to pitcher injuries/a need to go deeper into the pool than anticipated.
As of now, though, carrying him would’ve forced the Yankees to make not one, but two 40-man moves, considering Marwin Gonzalez seems likely to be on the Opening Day bench from the non-roster invitee group, too. Ben Rortvedt is a 60-Day IL candidate and the Yankees could slice Miguel Andújar or Stephen Ridings off the roster, but it’s not easy.
Sears scuffled against Toronto in relief (who doesn’t?) on March 30, inflating his ST ERA to 12.27 with seven hits and five earned runs in 1.2. In his other two outings? Five combined innings, five hits, one earned run and seven strikeouts.
Last season, Sears was a master after reaching Triple-A, going 7-0 with a 2.87 ERA in 10 starts at the highest level. Like we’ve said all spring long, results don’t matter quite as much as the process, and Sears rocked and fired like Zack Britton in two of his three outings.
The numbers weren’t quite there, but he’s still earned a juicy steak and a stake in the ‘pen game, and the 40-man issue only further clarified things.