Second order of business: 40-man roster crunch

What Went Wrong: Pre-DL Derek Jeter
Press Conference Roundup: CC, Hughes, A-Rod, Teixeira, Posada, More

Hopefully Brian Cashman was just playing coy when he told the Daily News’s Mark Feinsand that he and the Steinbrenners “haven’t had any talks whatsoever” about a new contract. While a deal seems inevitable, the Yankees do have a few pressing matters they must attend to. But before they can get to player options and CC Sabathia‘s opt out, they have to address one major issue: the 40-man roster.

Plagued by injuries this year, the Yankees made good use of the 60-day disabled list. For the uninitiated, a player on the 60-day DL does not occupy a spot on the 40-man roster. After the season ends, however, the disabled list goes away and those players must return to the 40-man roster. The Yankees currently have seven players on the 60-day DL.

In most years even seven players on the 60-day DL wouldn’t cause many problems. Departing free agents come off the roster at the same time that 60-day players return, so the roster math usually works itself out. But the Yankees have surprisingly few departing free agents this off-season: Jorge Posada, Sergio Mitre, Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Damaso Marte, and Luis Ayala*. Combine that with the players the Yankees must protect from the Rule 5 draft and it can create a tough situation.

*Scott Proctor is right on the edge of his six years’ service time. I’m not sure if he spent enough pre-September time in the bigs to qualify. But even if he doesn’t, the Yanks aren’t going to carry him through the winter, so we can consider him off. There’s also the matter of CC’s opt-out, but at this point even if he does come off the roster I’ll assume they’ll keep a seat warm for him.

A quick count reveals an even 40 men on the roster once the season ends, assuming Proctor’s departure. Thankfully, the Yankees already added two potential Rule 5 candidates to the roster: Austin Romine and George Kontos. That saves them a bit of trouble at year’s end. But they still need to add David Phelps, and they might want to add D.J. Mitchell, since a bottom-feeding team would almost certainly take him in the Rule 5 draft. That puts the Yankees over the limit.

There are a few expendables on the roster. Aaron Laffey and Raul Valdes are both non-tender candidates, though if the Yankees did like Valdes in September perhaps they want to keep him around. Laffey, however, is as good as gone. Reegie Corona is almost certainly a goner; his presence on the 40-man roster never really made much sense. Then there’s Colin Curtis and Justin Maxwell. They’re both expendable, and Maxwell is out of options. Chances are one of them could go as well.

The Yankees might have to find more room, too. They have spots in the starting rotation and bench that they’re not likely to fill from within. And, if reports are true, they could make room for another lefty reliever as well. Those moves create an even greater crunch on an overcrowded 40-man roster.

The Yankees, being professionals, will surely figure out who goes where in terms of the 40-man roster. In fact, they probably have a tentative plan already in place — it’s not as though they didn’t see this coming. For us, from the outside, it’s a strange picture. We know the Yankees need spots, but there don’t appear to be too many spots available. Observing how Cashman manipulates the 40-man could be one under the radar aspect of this off-season.

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What Went Wrong: Pre-DL Derek Jeter
Press Conference Roundup: CC, Hughes, A-Rod, Teixeira, Posada, More
  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    What are the option status’ of Greg Golson and Chris Dickerson?

    • JohnC

      They could both be gone. Maxwell kind of intrigued me. He had 20 homers before he went down for the season. Though he did strike out a ton also.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        All 4 of Curtis, Maxwell, Golson and Dickerson are fourth outfielders, but only one can stay. It’s like an episode of Yankee Survivor.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      They’re both out of options, Maxwell too.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        If I were Maxwell, I would be begging A-Rod to let me attend his hitting sessions with K Long this offseason.

        • Brooklyn Ed

          I remembered during a spring training game when Maxwell was batting, I thought it was A-Rod.

          • Jorge (needs a new name)

            I’m sure Maxwell also begs that Cameron thinks the same thing.

  • Jorge (needs a new name)

    Guys like Maxwell and Melky Mesa are Exhibit A of “How hard it is to hit a baseball.” These guys look like superstars, yet both have that fatal flaw to them.

    Golson and Dickerson (moreso Dickerson) give you good defense, speed, and aren’t an embarrasment with a bat in their hand. I’d always keep one/two of them over the others.

    I am so off the Ramiro Pena bandwagon that I have to wonder where he’s needed, even in AAA, at this point. Maybe there’s a more intriguing lottery ticket sitting on someone else’s AAA team.

    • Monteroisdinero

      Agree with all of this but prefer Golson to Dickerson. Just think he is a slightly better hitter and has a better and more accurate arm. I have seen him absolutely throw lasers to get runners at all bases. He is 26-a few years younger than Dickerson fwiw.

      • vin

        We know you like Golson, but Dickerson has put up better offensive numbers in the big leagues than Golson has in the minors. Not only that, but Dickerson has proven to at least be a league average hitter despite the irregular playing time that comes from being a 4th/5th OFer.

        Golson may have some more upside because he’s younger and had a bit more power in the minors, but Dickerson has shown himself to be a useful big leaguer.

        • VTYankeesFan

          The other benefit that Golson offers is that he is a right-handed hitter, which is ideal for the Yankees since 2/3 of the OF is lefty and would likely only be sitting against tough lefties.

        • Monteroisdinero

          25 abs in the majors for Golson. Come on. SSS. Golson has doubled off the LF wall at YS off David Price and homered off Matt Moore at Scranton.

          I would like Golson to get more of a taste of the big leagues. Too soon to judge.

          • Ted Nelson

            You can judge what he’s done in AAA… The comment you responded to didn’t look at Golson’s MLB PAs (42 of them), it looked as his AAA PAs. It’s pretty rare for a guy who can’t hit in AAA at that age to hit in MLB. I don’t know if Dickerson is much better, but he certainly doesn’t look any worse.

            • Monteroisdinero

              He was obviously bored. Seriously, his AAA #’s are not much different than Dickerson’s. He also hits righties fairly well and hit more HR’s than Dickerson.

    • aluis

      This. With the emergence of Nunez, there is no need to keep, the offensive black hole, Ramiro Pena around.

      • VTYankeesFan

        I think Pena could have value still, though only as a utility player. I think Nunez showed he can handle things this year, so for 2012 there likely isn’t a need for a player like Chavez – Nunez could be that guy. Pena would then be the true utility guy. Nunez could also play OF in a pinch. The only limitation Pena and Nunez would have is they can’t play 1st, but Swisher can – and I am hoping Montero can too – so that isn’t a big concern.

        • Ed

          I have no doubt that Pena and Nunez could handle first. If you can handle another infield position, first should be easy.

          The team was willing to play both of them in the outfield at various points, so I doubt they’d hesitate at all to use them at first if necessary. It’s far, far harder to switch between the infield and the outfield than it is to switch between infield positions.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    Does Feliciano occupy a 40 man spot? If he’s not going to pitch next year he may as well be DFAed.

    • VTYankeesFan

      He will require a 40-man spot once the season is over. DFAing him could be an option, as no one is going to pick him up for sure.

    • Ed

      Yes, he will use a spot.

      I don’t know how often the team gets insurance on contracts, but that could result in him keeping his roster spot. If they have a policy on him, they probably won’t be able to collect it if they release him.

      • VTYankeesFan

        But if they release him and keep him in AAA – since no one would claim him – would that change things? I don’t know that I would just dump him, as if he does get healthy, he could help us. This would just be to clear a spot on the 40-man to be used by a healthy player.

        • Ed

          I believe that works, but he’d have to agree to it. There’s no advantage to it for the player – he’d give up his Major League benefits (including health insurance) and get the Minor League package instead. He’d also stop collecting service time. It looks like Feliciano has about 7 years of service time. More time means a better retirement package until you max out at 10 years, so he’d be giving up a lot both now and in the future if he agreed to be removed from the roster.

          • nyyfaninlaaland

            If they designate him and no one claims him – and no one will – NYY can outright him. If he refuses, he’s a free agent and his contract for $4 MM in ’12 is terminated. So he’s got 4 Million reasons to accept.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    I say get younger even in the bench. Give these younger players a chance as subs and if needed you get a vet for the final push. That is the way George Weiss used to do it. Almost every year he would bring up a new player or two such as Martin, McDougald, Grim, and others I cannot recall. Young is the way to go. This from an old guy.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      I agree to an extent. However, if the younger player is someone that could develop into an every day player in the Bigs, I can see keeping him down in the minors to continue development (provided there’s more to be learned at that level). It’s a tough choice. I could see using a Laird in place of Chavez and trying to find a young power-hitting RH 4th outfielder/platoon with Garner if that’s the direction the team wants to go. Just don’t want to see talent sitting on the bench and not being utilized/developed.

      • VTYankeesFan

        I think the Yankees have a good opportunity to begin to grow some young players off their bench and out of the bullpen. We could see 2 of Laird, Nunez and Pena off the bench and possibly 2 of Dickerson, Golson or Maxwell. There isn’t a need for guys like Jones or Chavez if they think those guys can play defense and hit enough. We could also see Kontos get a real shot to replace Colon/Mitre in the bullpen. The tough thing to predict will be if they will carry 2 or 3 catchers, which obviously influences the rest of the roster constitution.

        • nyyfaninlaaland

          Yanks would very likely want a LHB in their bench mix with a bit more certain hitting ability than Dickerson. Everybody else is a RHB, except SW Pena, who isn’t a hitter.

  • VTYankeesFan

    I think the that the numbers are a bit misleading. Yes, there are 7 guys on the 60-day DL, but not all 7 are going to be back on the roster, as Mitre and Marte will be set free for sure. Based on that fact and the 8/9 free agents coming off the 40-man, they should have space to add 3-4 guys right away. That should allow David Phelps and DJ Mitchell to be added, plus could allow for David Adams and possibly Dan Brewer as well. This is all before some of the other potential moves that could/should be made, such as keeping only one of Laffey/Valdes, with Valdes being the preferred choice, IMHO. I also agree that Corona should be set free (replaced by Adams) and that not all of Curtis/Dickerson/Maxwell/Golson will be back next year, but I think it is possible that 2 of them are on the roster to start the season next year – one to replace Andruw Jones and one as the 5th OF option. Personally, I would get rid of Collin Curtis from now and try to keep the other 3 somehow. We are probably going to have to keep all 4 catchers at this point, until we know the constitution of the roster in April, so we have no room there.

    • Ed

      Curtis is probably the most likely one of the outfielders to stay. He still has minor league options available. He’ll probably be the 5th OF, bouncing between the bench and AAA next year. That’s assuming they think he’s still worth keeping post shoulder surgery, which isn’t a given.

      Of the other 3, I think the best case is one of them is given the 4th OF job. There’s no room for any of them otherwise.

      • VTYankeesFan

        Curtis is also likely the least talented of the bunch – or more correctly the one that has displayed the least impressive toolset to this point. When at Arizona State, Curtis was viewed to have a much higher ceiling than what he has shown. There is a chance that of the other 3, even though out of options, that at least 1 could be retained after they are passed thru waivers. I also wonder if Maxwell may not qualify for an extra year of options because of his injury situation this season (though he probably played too much to be considered).

    • nyyfaninlaaland

      Dan Brewer? Really? Nice enough player, but I’m not thinking he’s an at-risk Rule 5 selection.

      Corbin Joseph is a more serious contender for a spot than he or Adams at this point to my mind.

      The way I see it, of the 7 guys on the 60 DL, 2 will be FA’s anyway (Marte and Mitre), Corona is also likely gone, so 4 are left to bring back and perhaps deal with later.

      FA’s include Colon, Garcia, Ayala, Chavez, Jones, and Posada. That’s net 2 open spots. And Proctor, Laffey and Valdes are also gone now.

      That’s 5 spots net without any other drops, and I don’t see NY keeping all, likely 2 at best, of Golson, Dickerson, Curtis, and Maxwell. Only Curtis has options left. Now we’re likely at 7 opens.

      But gotta leave at least a couple of FA spots for an SP (unless through trade) and a Lefty bench bat, unless you think Dickerson would be acceptable to the NY FO in that role – I think not. Another RP slot could fill as a Minors FA sliding into the slot opened by Joba at season’s start. Leaves 1 bench spot for one of the remaining, likely a defensive OF, Nunez being the Righty 5th IF. I see NY carrying Montero as DH and 2nd or 3rd C along with Cervelli if his head stops spinning, poor guy.

      Plus Joba will likely open on the 60 DL, opening an end of spring spot for a minors FA. Same may also be true of Feliciano.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    I just thought of this. The Tiger’s bench is full of young players that Leyland uses at his command. Texas has some older players but they are relievers (Oliver). They let go of Rhodes. This is the best example I could think of that has been working although, some of the Tigers are getting long in the tooth.

  • VTYankeesFan

    Talk about fast acting. Yankees waived Laffey, who was claimed by KC. Also, Valdes and Proctor elected free agency. Was hoping we would keep Valdes, but a minor league deal would be even better!

  • IB6 UB9

    With Laird’s emergence as an elite defender at 3B I would give him a few months at AAA to get his 2010 bat back, at which point he’s a valuable trade chip.

    I would also trade Nunez to the Astros (who need a starting SS) for Wandy Rodriguez.

    • M-Three

      Wandy Rodriguez? Why the hell would you want this guy? He has never pitch in the A.L. and doesn’t have that good of stuff. Wandy is no better than a 4th starter on a good N.L. team and a 5th starter in the A.L. He nothing more than a left-handed Javy Vasquez.

  • M-Three

    Can someone please tell me why all of you are so high on Daivd Phelp and D.J. Mitchell? And why do you guys want them protect from the rule 5 draft? They are both just mediocare prospects at best and won’t be any more than 5th starters/long man.

    • VTYankeesFan

      People used to think the same thing about Nova and Noesi. Now Nova is a legit #2 starter and Noesi seems poised to make the jump to a more prominent role as well. Regardless, even if that is all they are, those are 2 positions that are required for every team and thus 2 less positions the Yankees would have to worry about. It seems to make more sense to protect them rather than lose them for $50k. At worst, they can then trade them for something that fits a bit better – maybe a young OF prospect with option years.

      • Billy

        I don’t think it’s fair to call Nova a “legit” number 2. I know he had a great year and certainly was the number 2 of the staff this year, but I don’t believe he can be counted on as a legitimate number 2 starter. The truth is, the Yankees need to resign CC and also add some sort of legitimate starter who will have a rotation spot the entire year. CC as a number 1 and even 2 number 3’s will work (Nova and someone else battle for the de facto 2). Burnett, Hughes, and/or Noesi should not be considered in the top 3. I’m not quite sure if they want to resign Colon or Garcia to considerable raises either.

        I know most of you won’t agree with me, but they should really trade Montero and one or two pitchers for a starter. But I would only do it for a top 10 or 15 starter (Cain, Kershaw, Felix, etc.). IF we can’t swing a guy like that, then make moderate moves and roll with the punches again next year…

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