The New York Yankees start a new spring training season this weekend, kicking off with games on Feb. 25. If that feels stunningly soon to you, with Opening Day fast approaching on March 30 ... you're not wrong!
The Yanks only started their cute little stretching circles and Mario Kart videos a few days ago and it's already time to get down to brass tacks. Flesh out the pitching staff. Polish off the bench. Find a left fielder. GO!
Aaron Boone and Co. have plenty to sort out, even though you'd be crazy not to automatically bank on a bounce back season from Josh Donaldson with no evidence. Crazy!
Though everything feels fated, at this point in time (Aaron Hicks, welcome to left field), there are always a few surprise names who could steal the show when game action begins. Sometimes, the Yankees even make room for a non-roster invitee to shock the world and climb onto the Opening Day roster (Lucas Luetge and Manny Bañuelos were the requisite heartwarming stories the past two offseasons).
This time around, given the holes at the margins of the roster (and one big one in the outfield), these are the four players most likely to swipe a roster spot out of (pardon the pun) left field.
4 Yankees who could steal 2023 Opening Day roster spots
Jhony Brito, RHP
Even though the bullpen is fairly stacked top to bottom, it's officially Jhony Brito Season as soon as the sixth inning of the first spring game rolls around.
Need a bridge reliever between the Yankees' main bullpen arms and the non-roster also-rans? Look no further than Brito, a 25-year-old Triple-A arm who was protected on the 40-man this offseason.
Don't take his singular at-bat against (lol) Josh Donaldson as gospel, but it's still worth watching to get an idea of the zip on his stuff.
Brito's 2022 season began with eight masterful starts at Double-A Somerset (5-2, 2.36 ERA, 38 Ks and just 11 walks in 42 innings), and he maintained his stuff at Triple-A, though the whiffs decreased a bit (53 in 70.2 additional innings).
The adjustment period between levels was nonexistent; Brito allowed just two earned runs across 17.1 innings in his first three Triple-A starts. If the Yankees like what they see and believe he's mastered the level, they might want to give him one final kick up the food chain to serve as the Domingo Germán-style swingman in the 'pen -- if Germán makes the rotation, that is.