Yankees make surprise move, add slugging catcher to 40-man roster before Rule 5 Draft

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SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

While the non-tender deadline that looms for the Yankees on Friday might include a few more big names moving to new towns, the Rule 5 Draft deadline still included one more surprise than most expected.

Conventional wisdom approaching the 6:00 PM EST deadline had the Yankees protecting right-hander Clayton Beeter and quite possibly nobody else, which would leave their 40-man roster with 39 members. Beeter, a big-league ready reliever now, almost certainly would've been scooped up for free if left unprotected. Now, he's free to be part of a trade package with the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for versatile bats (10% kidding).

But when push came to shove, 10 minutes before the deadline, the Yankees opted to make one more addition, further clouding the future of established veterans Kyle Higashioka and Ben Rortvedt.

Agustin Ramírez, known for his Gary Sánchez-like exit velocities at Double-A Somerset, was also protected, pushing the Yankees' 40-man to its full capacity. That leaves the Yankees with a remarkable six catchers on their current 40-man: Ramírez, Higashioka, Rortvedt, Austin Wells, Jose Trevino, and the recently-added Carlos Narvaez.

Who will Yankees DFA from 40-man roster after Rule 5 Draft deadline?

The Yankees will now move into Hard Sell Mode on Higashioka, who will almost certainly be non-tendered in a few days if Brian Cashman doesn't find any takers (and why would any team want to help him knowing full well they can pluck up the catcher without surrendering prospect capital in a matter of days?).

Rortvedt could also be dangled, as could Narvaez, who was somewhat surprisingly added a few weeks back. Wells, Trevino, and Ramírez are, for all intents and purposes, locks to reach spring training. The 22-year-old newcomer posted an .819 OPS with 18 homers in 114 games split between Single-A, High-A, and Double-A.

Beeter? His elevation was a necessity, but only time will tell whether he survives in the Yankees system until Opening Day. Most would bet against it.

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