With another Yankees season in the books (Spoiler Alert: No title), it's time to look forward to an offseason full of roster adjustments.
The Rule 5 Draft, aka the rest of baseball's favorite opportunity to steal from the New York Yankees, is nearly upon us (in mid-December). The Yanks have a relatively clean 40-man roster this time around, with plenty of upcoming free agent departures creating even more room than normal for both free agent additions and prospect protection. That said, someone's still going to get left behind and poached.
The Yankees' Rule 5 eligible players run the gamut, as usual, from mid-tier pitching prospects to essentials to lottery tickets to Andres Chaparro. Chaparro was left unprotected in 2022, wasn't swiped, hit 25 homers, and probably will be again; the Yankees likely won't be so lucky this time.
The chatter around keeping (or promoting) the slugger hasn't been quite so loud this summer. As wave after wave of offensive kids arrived, only to disappoint, the narrative has instead centered around the farm's impressive pitching prospects, from Randy Vásquez to Jhony Brito to even Clarke Schmidt. That's where Rule 5-conscious teams typically look first; a reliever can be rushed up from Double-A and protected all year long, while a Double-A first baseman can rarely survive on a big-league bench for an entire season without being returned to their previous team.
That means the Yankees have a wealth of pitching talent to be careful with entering the Poaching Period; everyone drafted in 2020 or earlier who's not on the 40-man can be grabbed. The Yanks need to make room for these three players -- one of whom isn't even eligible yet, but still must be a part of their 2024 roster plans.
3 Yankees top pitching prospects who belong on 2024 40-man roster
The Obvious: Clayton Beeter, RHP
There's no world in which Beeter, a 2023 Futures Game participant, goes unprotected this season. After a late rally at Triple-A where he found his footing, he seems primed for either a swingman role in the Bronx next summer or a spot at the forefront of an offseason trade package.
The 24-year-old Beeter opened eyes last summer after coming over from the Dodgers in the Joey Gallo trade (haha!), and after plowing through Double-A Somerset this summer, capped by a 0.54 June ERA with 24 Ks in 16.2 innings, he scuffled upon reaching the minors' highest level. Though his WHIP remains unsightly (17 walks in 25.1 September innings), he found his comfort zone in August (3.57 ERA in five starts) and the season's final month (4.26 ERA in five starts, with 64 total Ks in Aug.-Sept.).
Beeter might not be Opening Day ready, but there's a good chance he factors into the Yankees' rotation as a spot starter/middle innings eraser a la Michael King. There's no debate here; they won't be taking a chance and leaving him off the 40-man. This is more of a public service announcement than anything. We're simply alerting you, "Hey, he's one of the guys this winter, just so you know. Deal with it." We'll see him sooner than later.