3 Yankees top prospects who will get genuine chance at starting roles on 2025 roster

New York Yankees Photo Day
New York Yankees Photo Day / New York Yankees/GettyImages

The 2025 New York Yankees will, reportedly, be operating on a reduced payroll after Hal Steinbrenner took to the mic, fumbled it, picked it back up, then fumbled again while spitting out the word, "Unsustainable."

Our take on this has never wavered: he's correct that you don't have to operate with a $300 million payroll to win championships, but we're not sure if 2025 Brian Cashman can operate outside those parameters. Also, either way, the money helps!

Regardless, the Yankees' stated goal is to re-sign Juan Soto long-term while other costly contracts come off the books around him — namely, Gleyber Torres, Anthony Rizzo, Alex Verdugo, Tommy Kahnle and Clay Holmes. The Yankees' 2025 Opening Day outfield will hopefully include Jasson Dominguez, regardless of the rest of the work they do, but second and first base remain unsettled, as well as the majority of the bullpen (Jack Neely, we're looking at you).

In our estimation, these three rookie position players will be afforded genuine chances to make noise and grab roster spots next spring.

3 Yankees rookies who'll be given genuine chances to make Opening Day 2025 roster

Ben Rice

Hell, Rice might get a chance well before Opening Day next year, but considering the unnecessary awkwardness of replacing Rizzo while the team is peaking, it's probably safer to assume 2025 will represent his time to shine.

Still, the Yankees made sure to keep Rice in Double-A long enough to catch Gerrit Cole on Tuesday, then immediately bumped him up to Triple-A in the aftermath. That string of decisions made it clear that they believe in Rice -- and that they're still committed to seeing what they've got in him behind the plate.

In Rice's first game with Triple-A Scranton, he mashed an RBI single in the first and a long home run late to break a tie with Baltimore's star-studded affiliate from Norfolk. Don't let the draft pedigree or unorthodox collegiate experience (Dartmouth) fool you; Rice is a classic Yankee Stadium lefty, and the team is well aware of it.

Caleb Durbin

The buzz around Durbin has been deafening lately, which is astounding for a 5'6" infielder who felt like a hidden gem we feared would never be discovered just a few months ago. Despite a recent injury that has him on the shelf for an indefinite period, he did more than enough at Triple-A to prove his worth before the freak pitch that bit his wrist, hitting .299 with a .413 OBP and .871 OPS while swiping 20 bases.

Durbin's versatility has been his calling card throughout the minors, and he was even pressed into action in center field earlier this year. But "ultimate utility man" doesn't feel like his ceiling anymore. Not when publications like NJ.com have begun to call him the Yankees' 2025 Gleyber Torres replacement.

Torres, who's heated up a bit lately, needs a strong second half for his own good. The Yankees could use as many lineup jolts as they can get as well. But whether Torres feels like a bargain or has priced himself out of the Bronx by the end of the season, the Yankees seem prepared to move on either way. Durbin is very much in the running to be what's next.

Jorbit Vivas

...and Jorbit Vivas is, too.

Obtained from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Victor González/Trey Sweeney swap that has the potential to be generational, Vivas missed the first chunk of the season after fracturing his orbital bone on a wicked foul tip bounce in Mexico, as one does. After returning, the sweet-swinging lefty has been occasionally brilliant, but often still searching; his numbers don't hold a candle to his potential, but the five-hit, five-RBI game he posted on May 23 while on a rehab assignment hinted at his maximum level of effectiveness.

The Yankees -- at least since 2023 -- will never say no to upgrading a position of need with a lefty batter where a righty once sat. Torres is on notice for many reasons, but his handedness is certainly a long-term factor. If Vivas can prove that he embodies consistency rather than powerful (gulp) Rougned Odor-like flashes, then he'll get a fighting shot at sticking on the big-league roster as soon as next spring. He'll at least be a part of an open competition with Durbin (and, yes, he has the pesky handedness advantage).