The New York Yankees will be eyeing potential roster improvements until the bitter end this spring training.
Though it can feel like time has stopped while watching an endless parade of Nos. 97 take their hacks in the Florida humidity, the reality is that things can turn on a dime in March. One minute, Gavin Lux is the Dodgers' starting shortstop. The next, it doesn't seem so crazy to discuss hypothetical trades that could send Isiah Kiner-Falefa to Los Angeles.
Most roster battles taking place this spring will not result in a trade, though. Many MLB teams are giving two top prospects the chance to win a starting job on Opening Day; for instance, the Brewers will not be dealing whoever comes up short in the Garrett Mitchell/Sal Frelick outfield battle.
There are a few veterans across the league who could find themselves edged out and jobless, however, as well as a couple of fringy Quad-A guys with genuine talent who might end up getting overshadowed by budding superstars.
The Yankees need to pay close attention to these three position battles as the month drags on. They also have to keep Dodgers head honcho Andrew Friedman on speed dial.
3 MLB spring training position battles that could give Yankees new trade options
3. Cardinals Outfield Battle: Jordan Walker vs. Dylan Carlson vs. Alec Burleson
The Cardinals have long felt like a natural trade fit for the Yankees, as Brian Cashman looks to find a left field option more inspiring than "Aaron Hicks again" or "plopping an Oswaldo Cabrera-sized peg in an outfield hole."
Now that Jordan Walker has emerged as the spring sensation many predicted him to be, it's possible the Cardinals' sense of urgency might increase?
There are a million interchangeable solid names in the Cards' outfield picture, and even if St. Louis has seemingly no interest in dealing Lars Nootbaar for Danny Jansen -- going so far as to sign Willson Contreras to get out of it -- there are a number of Redbird outfielders who could eventually hit the market.
Maybe it's 24-year-old switch-hitter Dylan Carlson, who reached the top of the prospect mountain only to OPS .696 with eight homers last year in regular duty. Maybe it's Alec Burleson, the 24-year-old lefty slugger who hit .331 with 20 bombs at Triple-A Memphis last year, but doesn't walk much (only a .372 OBP).
And maybe the Yankees' own position battles will help craft their end of a potential trade here. If Domingo Germán wins the fifth starter slot and the team is confident in Matt Krook/Jhony Brito, Clarke Schmidt could end up becoming the second New York starter dealt to the Cards in under a year. Probably shouldn't be, especially after all that Triple-A depth thinned out last year, but he could be.