Now that Opening Day has been pushed back at least eight weeks by the coronavirus pandemic, the New York Yankees roster doesn’t seem quite so predictable. A few weeks ago, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton had both been ruled out for March 26th, but the slugging outfielders now have plenty of time to rest and rehab their injuries.
Originally, the Yankees projected to begin the season with Clint Frazier, Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman as their Opening Day outfield while experimenting with Miguel Andújar as a part-time left fielder. Well, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, things have changed as Judge and Stanton are expected to be healthy. This puts the Yankees’ outfield on reset to where it was in early February. Brett Gardner would see regular duty in center field unless the season begins in June or July. Then, the outfield situation will change again if Aaron Hicks is ready to return from Tommy John surgery. This will have Aaron Judge in right field and Giancarlo Stanton splitting time between left field and designated hitter.
The likely Yankee to stay on the roster would be Mike Tauchman. He is an excellent defender and capable of backing up at all three positions. Ironically, the odd man out would likely be Clint Frazier. He was ready to take advantage of an opportunity for playing time going (8-for-25) with four doubles, a home run with two RBIs and a .320 batting average in 12 spring games.
If you think we are okay, then you are wrong. We still have the pitching rotation and relievers to worry about. Right now, Jordan Montgomery looks to be the man for the No. 4 rotation slot. The No. 5 slot is still up for grabs between Chad Green and Jonathan Loaisiga to serve as openers. If the season should start in late April, the first three spots in the rotation will be Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ. The Yankees bullpen looks to be set with a strong 13-man staff reserved for Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Luis Cessa, Green, Tommy Kahnle and Adam Ottavino.
All that is left are the bench players like Kyle Higashioka who was guaranteed the job of backing up catcher Gary Sánchez leaving three spots. So, let’s pencil in Miguel Andújar, who is an automatic lock. What do we do about Mike Ford who offers a big-swinging left-handed bat but with limited versatility? He can continue to back up Luke Voit at first base and serve as an occasional DH if “Mr Glass” breaks again.
The final decision could come down to Ford, Estrada, Herrera or Wade for one spot and that is assuming the health of 25 other guys.
Stay healthy Bombers…