Who’s ready for Sept. 1 Roster Expansion Day, an exciting opportunity for contenders to get a two-person infusion of talent, pretenders to give some of their most deserving top prospects a chance to shine, and the Yankees to add two unexciting bullpen depth pieces at best?
With so little time left in the regular season, calling up buzzworthy names on Sept. 1 won’t impact anyone’s Rookie of the Year status or upcoming service time thresholds. It’s just one last chance to inject some youth into a static lineup or rotation, with the non-waiver trade deadline no longer in place.
The league’s bottom of the barrel teams have begun to take advantage, with the middling Diamondbacks promoting red-hot prospect Corbin Carroll, while the Oakland A’s plan to continue their mockery of the Yankees by calling up Ken Waldichuk as soon as the calendar turns.
It’s not just the league’s bottom-feeders making moves, though! The Houston Astros are really planning to maximize their two additional roster spots after being given the gift of rookie contributions. The Astros’ two promotions, per sources, will be handed off to No. 1 prospect Hunter Brown, a flame-throwing right-hander, and No. 3 prospect Yainer Díaz, who appeared in the 2022 Futures Game and, hell, could get playoff reps at a position that needs improving?
The Yankees could do the same thing with Oswald Peraza, but … they won’t. And the Astros know they won’t.
Astros promoting No. 1 and 3 prospects for September reinforcements, Yankees doing nothing at all
Houston moving Brown to the bigs is a little more complicated than just giving a prospect a cookie. Ace Justin Verlander seems to have checked out relatively unscathed, but he’s still hitting the IL with a calf issue, giving the team a prime chance to see what they have with Brown.
The Yankees have a similar situation in their own backyard, though. Gleyber Torres has lost .189 points off his slugging percentage between the first and second half, good for the fifth-largest dip in baseball. DJ LeMahieu is battling through a toe ailment that has clearly sapped his pop over the past few weeks. Isiah Kiner-Falefa? He’s been fine, but has also been upgradeable all along.
And yet … the Yankees don’t seem inclined to make a move here, while the Astros appear excited to introduce a star catcher down the stretch (after not making the move for Willson Contreras at the deadline).
The Astros, currently 11 games up on the Mariners and racing towards the AL’s best record, have promoted their very best prospect to fill a rotation hole and added a potential offensive star behind the plate for the home stretch.
The Yankees? Their AL East lead is disappearing, they have injuries and underperformance spread throughout the middle infield, and they’re going to serve you Luke Bard and Anthony Banda and you’re going to like it.
One team is hungry, especially when presented with an opportunity. The other is complacent, and believes they can “hang on,” as if hanging on is the name of the game.
Brown and Díaz could be electric. So could Peraza, if he ever got the deserved chance to give LeMahieu and Torres a break.