Yankees' unnecessary 40-man roster move hints at Austin Wells plan

The Yankees have made their intentions clear when rosters expand in September.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats v Somerset Patriots
New Hampshire Fisher Cats v Somerset Patriots / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

When top prospects Everson Pereira and Austin Wells were held out of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders' game just before the "service time manipulation" cutoff date, it seemed as if the Yankees had made a bold maneuver aimed at igniting a future spark.

Alas, it was not to be. Pereira and Wells remained in the minors, mauling the Worcester Red Sox as the big-league Yankees got manhandled by the Boston version.

We may never know what caused the Yankees to delay this decision by ... one whole weekend, but on Monday, the team relented. New York promoted Pereira and infielder Oswald Peraza, but what you may have missed was that they also signaled their readiness to give Wells a chance as a third catcher down the stretch.

Both Pereira and Peraza will start nearly every day; Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman have made that clear. When Wells arrives, he probably won't be in the same situation, slotting in behind Kyle Higashioka and Ben Rortvedt -- but it certainly seems as if the slugger's arrival is a "when," not an "if."

In order to promote Pereira and Peraza, the Yankees could've taken the easy route and added Billy McKinney to the IL while demoting the rarely-used Oswaldo Cabrera. Instead, they rested McKinney and DFA'd outfielder Greg Allen, clearing a 40-man roster spot about 10 days ahead of time for Wells' likely addition.

Yankees seemingly intend to promote Austin Wells when rosters expand in September

They were going to have to make the Allen decision someday, whether it be in September or in the offseason, when his leash would surely have run out. Instead of delaying the inevitable -- even another 10 days, when they could've theoretically used the outfield depth -- the Yankees set Allen free and signaled their readiness to Wells.

In 28 Triple-A games this season, the 2020 first-rounder has a higher OPS than he did in 58 successful Double-A contests (.808 to .770). He's been a bat-first player for the duration of his professional career, but deserves credit for working tirelessly on his defense at potentially the toughest position on the diamond, refusing to surrender to the first base/DH role that so many prognosticators have earmarked for him.

There will be growing pains for Wells behind the plate when he's elevated. Over the past year, the Yankees have made allowances for such adjustment periods, elevating both Anthony Volpe and Jasson Dominguez to Triple-A ahead of schedule at the end of the 2022/23 seasons, then placing Volpe on the Opening Day roster when most figured he'd remain in the minors.

Wells appears to be next, even though the Yankees didn't promote the full trio this past week.