Jan
04

The 40-Man Roster Chopping Block

By

Whelan's on the block. (Getty)

The Yankees have a very full 40-man roster at the moment, so every player they acquire from here on out will cost another player his 40-man spot. Andruw Jones will need a spot whenever his new one-year deal becomes official, and Hiroyuki Nakajima will as well if he signs a contract before Friday’s deadline. Any trade for a starting pitcher will likely involve a 40-man roster player going the other way, but a free agent like Edwin Jackson means another 40-man spot will have to be cleared.

With Jones back, it seems likely that Justin Maxwell has moved to the front of the roster casualty line. He’s out of minors league options (meaning he’d have to clear waivers to be sent to the minors) and a right-handed hitting outfielder, which is the job Andruw will fill. Maxwell has some potential, but not enough to win the numbers game. Nakajima could take Ramiro Pena‘s 40-man spot, though Pena has one minor league option left and is the default emergency infielder. Perhaps Nakajima’s ability to play the middle infield plus Brandon Laird‘s ability to play third plus Jayson Nix‘s presence on a minor league contract makes Ramiro more expendable.

Along with Maxwell and possibly Pena, Kevin Whelan appears to be the most vulnerable. He certainly is among pitchers, anyway. The soon-to-be 28-year-old right-hander made his big league debut last season after being acquired in the Gary Sheffield trade, walking five of the ten batters he faced in one and two-thirds jittery innings. Control (and injury) has always been his problem, as the 2011 season was his first with a sub-5.5 BB/9 and a sub-14.0 BB% since 2006 (2.4 BB/9 and 6.8 BB%). He does miss bats through (career 11.1 K/9 and 29.7 K%), and with two minor league options left, he’s a not terrible piece of bullpen depth. George Kontos, Hector Noesi, David Phelps, and D.J. Mitchell are also on the 40-man and serve the same purpose though, and at some point something is going to have to give.

This year’s two Rule 5 Draft picks — Brad Meyers and Cesar Cabral — are also candidates to get cut if space is needed, though I hope not. Those two intrigue me more than any of the Yankees other recent Rule 5 picks, and I’d selfishly like to get a look at them in Spring Training. Chris Dickerson is out of options like Maxwell, and I have a hard time envisioning a scenario in which he’d make the team, barring a Spring Training injury. I suspect he’ll be kept around in camp for that very reason, then traded for a spare fringe prospect in late-March if the Yankees make it through the month with a healthy outfield. With two minor league options and upside left, Melky Mesa figures to be safe.

There’s also Pedro Feliciano, who is extremely unlikely to pitch in 2012 after having shoulder surgery in September. As far as I know, there is no rule preventing teams from releasing an injured player to free up 40-man space, but it rarely happens. I’m guessing it’s a courtesy to veteran players (the Yankees did release the injured Amaury Sanit last year), since he can be placed on the 60-day DL during the season to free up a spot while retaining all the 40-man benefits, like health care for his family. Feliciano figures to be 60-day DL’d as soon as possible/when necessary, maybe for a non-roster guy like Hideki Okajima.

Maxwell, Pena, and Whelan will likely be the first three to get the 40-man roster axe, but not necessarily in that order. That should be plenty of wiggle room until Spring Training, when Dickerson and Feliciano start to come into play. The Yankees don’t have very much flexibility with their 40-man because of all the young players they’re carrying — I count 16 with less than a year of service time, eight with zero MLB experience on the 40-man — which is a double-edged sword. It’s nice to have a good farm system, but at some point all these players have to go somewhere.

Categories : Players
  • RkyMtnYank

    I don’t see Nakajima as an upgrade over Nunez or Pena so that should be a non issue. I don’t think he’ll sign since the Yanks prob didn’t want him anyway.

    • FIPster Doofus

      There’s no way Nakajima is worse than Pena.

      • RkyMtnYank

        I didn’t say worse, I said not an upgrade!!! I think Nakajima is only slightly better with the bat which is not worth the contract and roster moves.

        • FIPster Doofus

          Pena has a career .233/.266/.288 line. If Nakajima’s not an upgrade over that, then yeesh.

          • RkyMtnYank

            Really, how well do you think Nakajima will do over here? Wanna bet it won’t be much better than that? Either way it won’t matter because each is a back-up / utility player that will only be used for their glove. If either is counted on to produce anything meaningful with the bat then something has gone terribly wrong. At that level paying for Nakajima is just silly!

            • Cris Pengiucci

              Even if he’s an upgrade offensively, his defense will likely be worse than Pena’s. But again, it doesn’t matter much as they’re the 2nd IF backup behind Nunez.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    I would be sad if Whelan has to go because he seems to have some upside as a reliever with a 11.1k/9 career as you say. I also would like to hold on to Cabral who could be a better than average LOOGY. However, you cannot hold on to every one, evolution must continue for the improvement of the team.

  • Frank Defano

    If Cashman didnt have a little man ego, hed release Feliciano. But since he still thinks Pavano and Burnett were good signing, that ain’t happening. It would be admitting the obvious. Whelan, amazingly, seems more likely first even as Feliciano has no place in this organization…for $8m.

    • pat

      But since he still thinks Pavano and Burnett were good signing

      And you know this how?

    • jsbrendog

      did you read the article?

      There’s also Pedro Feliciano, who is extremely unlikely to pitch in 2012 after having shoulder surgery in September. As far as I know, there is no rule preventing teams from releasing an injured player to free up 40-man space, but it rarely happens. I’m guessing it’s a courtesy to veteran players (the Yankees did release the injured Amaury Sanit last year), since he can be placed on the 60-day DL during the season to free up a spot while retaining all the 40-man benefits, like health care for his family.

      seriously.

  • Frank Defano

    Wow and 16 spots to potential rookies!? That’s a horrid lack of sorting through inventory while it gets stale fast. For all the young pitching few if any will get MLB innings in 2012. Just a terrible job of promoting from within and yet they still end up with that mess of a rotation? It’s time to make another Xavier Nady deal – trade a bunch of marginal arms for nothing in return.

    • Frank Defano

      Check that. For the 7+ fWAR the Pirates have gotten, so far, the Yankees got 1.5 fWAR from Nady and a few strikeouts from Marte.

      Just trade Warren, Phelps, and Mitchell for Jerry Hairston already! They have no place in this organization. That much is clear.

    • jsbrendog

      you should go back to lohud.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    Are the Yankees seriously thinking of signing Jackson? At the end of the 2011 season, I commented that he was a viable option (in one of the blogs) and I was almost run out of the Yankee fandom membership. Most of the bloggers did not agree with me then.

  • KeithK

    Health insurance may be expensive, but with all the money he’s making for being injured somehow I think Feliciano will be able to afford it.

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

      It’s more than that. He gets licensing money and collects service time, which beefs up his pension.

      • KeithK

        Oh sure. I was just being snide. I can see why teams would keep players on the roster if they have available slots as a courtesy. But there’s no reason to feel sorry for a player who gets cut and loses these benefits if he also has a guaranteed multi-million dollar contract.

        • Steve (different one)

          No no, it’s because of Cashman’s ego. Duh…

          • jsbrendog

            little man ego apparently

  • Mike Myers

    What kind of surgery did he get? 2 years lost? Yanks must have made a big mistake with the doctors. Couldnt they have had the surgery last May so he would be healthy by now?

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

      Andrews told him to try rehab first because the surgery was potentially career-ending.

  • nsalem

    Glad they held onto David Adams. If he remains healthy he may soon be a pleasant surprise.

  • ADam

    What about Melky Mesa? going on 25 and not hitting in AA??

  • ADam

    Axisa, Please give Frank D. his own segment on the podcast… please…

  • http://twitter.com/thewhite_dragon Drew

    Relievers with high k/9 need to be held on to. Ramiro Pena….not so much.

  • theyankeewarrior

    Great farm system. Too many kids on the 40 (not even including Manny and Warren). None other than Jesus ready to make immediate impact. Teams making deals everywhere. Yankees involved in nothing serious. Frustrating. Still a great team. Can’t have it all. Maybe Cash isn’t a ninja after all. Still trust him more than anyone. Hope shit works out. End rant.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Yeah, what a terrible problem to have. Too many young kids waiting to try to make an impact on the ML team, some extra money that can be spent to upgrade the team if necessary and when the right option comes along. Just terrible problems. Wish we were the Mets or something like that instead.

      • jsbrendog

        1st world (team) problems, man. shiiiit.

      • theyankeewarrior

        “Can’t have it all”. Direct quote from my post.

        And you missed the point entirely. We have all these resources, yet we don’t have anyone of significance behind CC Sabathia, and we haven’t had anyone since Andy Pettitte.

        That’s frustrating. Not just to me, but to most Yankees fans. And probably to most of the organization. That’s all I said.

  • JoeMoes

    You have to protect many of your minor leaguers on 40man from rule 5 draft I believe

  • Fernando

    I think Maxwell is the first to get the boot. You have Jones and Dickerson for backup OF, plus Yankees just signed two guys for backup depth at AAA (Cole Garner & DeWayne Wise). These new guys can easily be brought up in case of injury then placed on waivers.

    Yankees also sign former 1st rounder (Indians) Adam Miller.

  • Rainbow Connection

    Where’s Ted Allen when you need him? LOL! Meow!

  • http://Twitter.com/idontwearedsox Kabiela

    What are ur thoughts on the rotation now that Nakajima wont be signed?

    • Kabiela

      I meant 40 man roster. I dont think they should trade Dickerson for anyone, nor do I think they will. Feliciano needs to be releasaed; He’s just taking up space on the roster and it’s not fair to those who are capable and ready to play.