While the Yankees have made three significant additions this winter, the wheeling and dealing might not be over yet. The Yanks still have a few areas they could choose to address from outside the organization. This means looking to the remaining free agents and to the trade pool. As fans we’re quick to speculate on moves which would help the team. The team, however, has a different mode of thought.
One aspect I don’t see many accounting for is the 40-man roster, which is currently full. This has a significant effect on how the Yankees will build out their 2009 team. Some fans might have wanted to see the Yanks take fliers on the guys the Red Sox picked up recently: Brad Penny, John Smoltz, Takashi Saito, Rocco Baldelli. However, the Yankees are ill equipped to handle such gambles. Each of the four signed a major league deal, meaning they require a 40-man roster spot.
Looking at the current 40-man, there doesn’t seem to be many players the Yanks would consider moving. The only position player they could possibly DFA would be Cody Ransom. He’d likely pass through waivers and head back to the Yanks farm system. However, the Yanks would need to add either him or Angel Berroa to the 40-man prior to Opening Day, so that just pushes the problem on Future Brian Cashman.
On the pitching end, I suppose the Yanks could DFA Chase Wright, but he throws with his left arm so that’s doubtful. The lesser arms — Anthony Claggett, Michal Dunn, Chris Garcia, Eric Hacker, Steven Jackson — were recently added to the roster. It’s not like Cashman used up a spot just to DFA the player later. There just isn’t much room for the team to maneuver right now.
Perhaps this is why the Yanks haven’t stolen Juan Cruz. He makes more sense for them than for the teams which would have to surrender a first rounder. Yet the Yanks can’t make a move because they don’t have much if any 40-man flexibility. If they’re going to sign another free agent, they’d probably have to swing a trade somewhere, perhaps a two-for-one that would free up a roster spot. Otherwise, there’s not much the Yanks can really do.