Yankees make brutal roster move and could hurt key reliever's development

Come on, man.
Houston Astros v New York Yankees
Houston Astros v New York Yankees / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

Turns out, the New York Yankees didn't learn their lesson here when they already experienced this type of move blowing up in their face. That's right ... it happened back in 2022 when Brian Cashman and the front office's series of decisions sunk a bonafide World Series contender.

On Thursday night, the Yankees optioned the red-hot Ron Marinaccio back down to Triple-A solely because he had options remaining, which saved Michael Tonkin's spot on the roster for the time being. Nick Burdi is set to return from the injured list for the team's weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays and the Yanks had to clear a roster spot.

Yes, there's some validity to this. The Yankees are ailing on the pitching front and need to preserve as many innings as possible. If they went with Tonkin this time around, he would've had to be designated for assignment. If/when Tommy Kahnle returns, that'll have to happen anyway.

But is preserving someone like Tonkin worth halting Marinaccio's progress as he rebounds from an awful 2023 season? The work Marinaccio has done so far has been incredible, considering where he was just a few months ago.

The right-hander owns a 1.42 ERA and 0.79 WHIP with 10 strikeouts across 12 2/3 innings of work after finishing 2023 with an 8.80 ERA and 1.96 WHIP across his final 15 1/3 innings at Triple-A.

Yankees make brutal roster move and demote pitcher who's bounced back in big way

Marinaccio's success this year is no fluke, either. He's definitely gotten himself into trouble with walks, but he's managed to work his way out of it. And his peripheral metrics support his surface-level stats, which is always a good sign.

The Yankees used this same logic with "options" back in 2022 when Marinaccio was arguably the team's most consistent reliever. That season, he logged a 2.05 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with 56 strikeouts in 44 innings. He was demoted on Aug. 6, returned on Aug. 17, and his impressive streak of clean outings was halted. He stumbled a bit, then came down with a shin injury, which led to the Yankees leaving him off the ALDS and ALCS rosters.

Back then, shuffling him up and down was at least somewhat understandable, because guys like Jonathan Loaisiga, Wandy Peralta, Luis Severino, Jameson Taillon, Lou Trivino, Frankie Montas and Miguel Castro were in the picture.

This time around, they don't have anywhere close to that cast of arms, and could arguably be adversely affecting the progress Marinaccio has made to dig himself out of what seemed like an insurmountable hole.

Bold move, we'll see how it works out for them, Cotton.