The September 40-Man Roster Crunch

Thoughts following the series loss to the Jays
A-Rod to begin minor league rehab assignment tomorrow
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The calendar flips over to September this Saturday (already?), meaning teams will be able to supplement their roster with players from the minors for the final month of the season. The Yankees need some extra pieces due to all of their injuries, though not all of the call-ups happen at once. The first wave is usually a third catcher, an extra position player, and an arm or two. Once the Triple-A (and sometimes Double-A) season ends, more players join the big league club. Some might even get to play in a game later in the season.

Assuming the Yankees stick to a similar script, we’ll probably see Frankie Cervelli, Eduardo Nunez, and Cory Wade rejoin the team this weekend. Pedro Feliciano will make one more minor league rehab appearance today, and rumor has it that if all goes well, he’ll come off the DL on Saturday to provide another left-handed reliever. I’ve already lobbied for Chris Dickerson to be called up in the wake of Mark Teixeira‘s injury, but the problem there is that he is not on the 40-man roster. That’s a problem for Feliciano as well. In fact, it’s a problem beyond those two.

At the moment, the Yankees have 48 players on the 40-man roster thanks to a whopping eight players on the 60-day DL. Feliciano is one of those eight and so is Andy Pettitte, so the team will have to clear two spots just to activate those two next month. Calling up Dickerson or any other non-40-man player — Mark Montgomery? Chase Whitley? Ronnie Mustelier? — will require more moves. There isn’t a lot of dead weight that can be dumped, just a bunch of a Grade-B/C prospects like David Adams and Zoilo Almonte, who are are interesting enough but not quite yet ready for the big leagues. Those guys are really gumming up the works.

The easiest way to clear one 40-man spot would be to promote Dellin Betances to the big leagues and place him on the 60-day DL. He was placed on the Double-A DL with shoulder tendinitis last week, though we don’t know the severity of the injury or the timetable for his return. I doubt the Yankees will be anything but conservative with him though, especially since he’s had shoulder issues in the past. If Betances is going to miss more than a month, calling him up and sliding him to the 60-day DL is the easiest way to free up a 40-man spot for Feliciano. Things will get real tricky if it’s a minor injury and he’ll be able to return to action in a week or so.

Left-hander Justin Thomas stands out as an obvious candidate to be taken off the 40-man roster, though he may be safe because he is one of just three healthy pitchers on the 40-man roster and not in the big leagues (Wade and Adam Warren are the others). A healthy return from Feliciano makes Thomas expendable though, so consider him to be on the chopping block conditionally. Ramiro Pena should be among the next in line to lose his spot, especially with other infielders like Nunez, Adams, and Corban Joseph also on the 40-man. Both Thomas (a left-hander who is stretched out to throw 80+ pitches) and Pena (speedy, defense-first infielder) are useful pieces to carry in September, but they might be out of luck this season.

After Betances, Thomas, and Pena, the only other player on the 40-man roster who stands out as a prime release candidate is Chris Stewart. The Yankees have two younger catchers on the 40-man in Cervelli and Austin Romine, so they could cut their season-long backup catcher and still be able to carry three backstops in September. Will they actually do that though? I highly doubt it. They seem to love Stewart’s defense (I’m skeptical) and he’s hit for just enough average (.252) to come off as not useless offensively. It would be a surprising move, but at that point it would be the only one they could make. I suppose the Yankees could opt to remove either Casey McGehee or Steve Pearce from the 40-man next month, but that would surprise me since there really isn’t any internal option who would be an upgrade.

There isn’t a ton of help coming in September, but that’s typical. Feliciano might give the bullpen a little boost and Wade could do the same, but the other guys are depth pieces to pinch-run, play defense, and soak up playing time in blowouts. You know, the blowouts the Yankees never seem to play anymore. Anyway, the 40-man roster is overstuffed at the moment and the Yankees are going to have to make some tough decisions just to get Feliciano and Pettitte on the club next month. Add more pieces beyond those two will require some serious roster machinations.

Thoughts following the series loss to the Jays
A-Rod to begin minor league rehab assignment tomorrow
  • Better off Eddard

    Pearce isn’t going anywhere. He single handidly won the only game we took from the Jays. I’d like to see Stewart released. Cervelli should have been up all season. I bet he could hit better than .195 so he might have even been our starter. Catcher is already a black hole so we might as well see what we’ve got with the youngsters. And Cervelli has caught all of these guys except for Hiroki who could pitch to a tree stump and still be a Cy Young candidate.

    • Billy

      I watched Cervelli play a ton this summer and his ceiling is as a backup. He didn’t hit much at all at AAA, what’s he going to do in the majors? His .247 AAA average would play out a lot closer to Martin’s average in MLB.

    • Bunt Gardner

      This Eddard “skit” is getting old.

      • jjyank


  • DERP

    Nova might be a candidate for the 60 day DL as well.

  • Ed

    Can they promote Betances and DL him? Back when Ian Kennedy had his aneurysm, we had a bit of a roster crunch yet we kept him on the minor league DL. I thought promotions/demotions were prohibited while a player was injured.

    • Mike Axisa

      They did it with Justin Maxwell last season.

  • blake

    Try Mark Montgomery….hes a reliever and they can rush him…..they need another non matchup arm out there and if there is even a chance he can be Robertson 2.0 for the rest of the year then why not see……..if he struggles then fine but their pen is killing them and they need to exhaust all optioms to improve it.

    • Laz

      Have you not been listening 48 players on 40 man, and a few of them are getting healthy. I doubt the yankees bring up someone who didn’t get to AAA yet and then carry him all winter on the 40 man.

  • blake

    Also David Adams has close to a 1 OPS at Trenton this year vs LHP and is 25 years old….why not see what he can do.

    • viridiana

      Yes, Adams’ prospect status has been rising sharply. Stats confirm what scouts see: Before last nite’s game he had doubled as many times as he’d struck out. Guys like that are — in a word — rare.

      • blake

        I’d rather see him hit vs lefties than Jonesy

      • Laz

        You misstated something someone said here yesterday. It’s only vs lefties that that holds true. 23 doubles vs 51 so on the year. He is very good against lefties, and still holds his own vs same side pitchers. I think it would be interesting to see if him or cojo could either do anything, wish adams had gotten some time in at AAA this year.

  • Roadgeek Adam

    “And Cervelli has caught all of these guys except for Hiroki who could pitch to a tree stump and still be a Cy Young candidate.”

    A+ sir.

    While I disagree on cutting Stewart, we could just move Betances to the 60-day in my book then decide on the 40 man who goes next.

    Also, why wouldn’t McGehee be called on Monday?

  • Steve nj

    Drew Henson?

  • Smart Guy

    they can also DFA andruw jones who sucks

    Raul Ibanez can follow him

    • Travelbug83


    • Andruw Jones Smile

      Smart Guy–I find you not so smart. Why do you want me to be DFA? I provide so much joy to opposing fans when I K, trot after balls, can’t make plays, pop up to rightside and don’t know it as I’ve jerked my head and swung to pull the ball. SMILE. My partner in crime Lord Voldemort might hustle more but he loves to work a count full and then swing at crap in dirt SMILE

      What is life without SMILES? Didn’t you see me SMILE at Angel Hernandez when I should’ve held onto that ball that Lind hit that led to the team trailing after Escobar’s homer? SMILE Then I also SMILED after ruining any chance of a comeback with my misplay in 9th. SMILE

      Brian Cashman loves me–SMILE and that’s despite fact I’m the single most worthless piece of crap on the Yankees. I exude less effort then Jeter does in getting ladies phone numbers and why should I? SMILE I still get paid and can rest on my 10 Gold Gloves! SMILE

      • Sayid


      • JohnnyC

        Talk about tired acts. This wasn’t half-funny with the first post. Now it’s more tired than Andruw’s swing.

        • RetroRob

          Totally. If the influx of the Mike Francesa and LoHud crowd over the past couple seasons wasn’t painful enough, even worse are the posters who think they’re masters of humor, sarcasm and snark. Painful.

        • Bunt Gardner


  • Monty

    Why not give CoJo, Almonte, Mesa and Adams a shot rather than calling them “not yet ready”. It’s now or wait 5 years until they’re the future Steve Pearces and Casey McGehees that will be filling the roster anyway.

    • Mandy Stankiewicz

      Because not only what River Ave Bipolar said, but they’re also looked at as currency, and having Mesa hit .125 in 8 at bats would hurt his value if they try to package him in the winter for a big piece. But I feel ya

      • JohnnyC

        Cashman ought to learn that if you plan to use your middling prospects as trade chips you should trade them while they’re hot not when you feel like doing it. Mesa going 1 for 8 in the majors is not going to affect his value to another team but keeping him in the minors until he reaches medicare eligibility absolutely kills his value. Just my opinion.

    • Laz

      I dont think mesa and zoilo will be anything decent. But I think cojo and Adams could both turn into major league regulars.

  • Billy

    how will minor leaguers help yankees at this point? theres no way they will be playing minor leaguers in the heat of a pennant race especially when the team is in turmoil.

    • Bunt Gardner

      Turmoil? I think that’s exaggerating quite a bit.

    • River Ave Bipolar Disorder

      Seriously. Some of these flavor-of-the-month prospect-fellators seem to think AAA numbers translate to a big-league pennant race. These panicky commenters should be optioned down to SoSH.

    • JohnnyC

      Frankie Rodriguez pitched all of 42 innings in AAA after being converted to the bullpen that same season when the Angels recalled him in September 2002 in a pennant race. He did fairly well, no?

      • Laz

        and montgomery started the year in A and has all of 22 innings in AA. He may be a callup next september, forget about him this year. 22 innings in Trenton and people think he will be our setup man.

  • vin

    I still can’t get over the fact that Reegie Corona lasted as long as he did on the 40 man. He was a prime DFA candidate for like 2 years, but managed to hang on. Goes to show just how tricky roster prediction can be.

    • Eric Duncan


    • Laz

      Corona had success at the lower minors. He got 1.5 seasons in AAA and never hacked it. But they wanted at least give him time in scranton before they cut him.

  • Vinny S.

    If the Yankees promote Betances and put him on the 60-day DL, he’ll accumulate service time right?

    • Mike Axisa


      • Laz

        I don’t think that betances accumulating service time at this point in time is a big concern. They will be lucky if he makes a dent in the majors

  • Magilla Gorilla

    Will Derek Lee stick?

    • JohnnyC

      No and neither will Derek Lowe.

  • Robert

    Cojo,Mesa,Adams and Almonte as well as Romine should all be on the MLB roster now. The batting lineup is anemic!! Tex’s injury could be bad,AROD will be rushed into the lineup in Tampa and go 1/12 with 7Ks against that pitching staff.Romine has what it takes if healthy to outplay Martin/Stewart.I cant believe we are gonna go down in Flames with Pierce,Ibanez,Jones and Magehee. The Boss is turning in his grave!!!!

    • LiterallyFigurative

      The Boss would’ve traded the kids for Vernon Wells.

      • JohnnyC

        At least Vernon Wells doesn’t need a rascal to play the outfield.

    • Bunt Gardner

      So, are you giving a guarantee that those guys will all succeed on the ML level?

  • DM

    You could expand (beyond Wade, Nunez and Cervelli) with Thomas and Pena. Then dump Thomas if/when Feliciano is ready — and drop Pena when Pettitte is ready. I think the Pearce acquisition hurt the chances of Ronnier being promoted — but if both he and Jones struggle, I could see a swap there too. Also, I have a hunch Zoilo will be promoted to take peek for next year and maybe catch some lightning in a bottle now.

    • DM

      I guess you’d promote Warren as well for another extra arm.

      • Laz

        I think it would be a good idea. The kid only got one game, even good pitchers struggle. If they find a point where they are up by 4 runs throw him out there on a short leash, just to see what he can do. He doesn’t have anything else to do at AAA.

        • DM

          Yeah, and possible extra-innings or a spot start if they clinch and fiddle with the rotation to give Kuroda or CC more rest.

    • Travelbug83

      Why Mustelier?

      • DM

        Why Pearce hurt his chances? Or why bring him up at all? He’s another bat that can play the OF. And he seems less feast or famine than Jones. I know you can use Pearce at first at times with Tex down now — but I don’t think that was the initial motivation. They wanted another bat; if he contributes, I don’t think they need to promote Mustelier. If Tex comes back and Pearce hasn’t been helping, I could see them giving RM a crack. And I only mention him and Zoilo more than others b/c Girardi singled them out in the past. You could make a case for Dickerson, but you don’t hear much about him — even pre-Ichiro with Gardner down.

        • Travelbug83

          Mustelier – .287/.346/.781
          Dickerson – .321/.421/.944

          My question was not why call up anyone at all, but why Mustelier. I guess the numbers pretty much speak for themselves. And when Gardner went down so did Dickerson, only to spend 2 months on the DL.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    All this report tells me is the sad state that has become of the farm system when we don’t have one single, young, triple A poisition player that can help us in this hour of need.

    • Bunt Gardner


      • Robert

        All the help is in A two years away,but Adams Cojo Almonte and Mesa can at least give us the illusion that we have a productive farm system. Remember that rookie Shane Spencer!!!

    • Robinson Tilapia

      That’s not what expanding the roster is for, Jose.

      What you said reads to me as an indictment of the major league roster more than the AAA roster, hell.

  • Robinson Cano’s Sunflower Seeds

    Don’t know why so many people get upset now. This has been a flawed team with all of the injuries and there isn’t much you can do when your reinforcements are also old/one dimensional players. Cashman didn’t need Jones and Ibanez and while he got Ichiro as an upgrade to them in the field–he’s also old and washed up. Can only go the same route so often. Pen has too many specialists and yet they are still in 1st place and hopefully will add some players back down the stretch. Don’t think they’ll get past Rd 1 due to the weaknesses but getting there would be a good job of managing by Girardi given what he’s had to work with via Cashman this year. I don’t hate Cashman or want him replaced–but think he’s had a poor year evaluating this roster/adding to it.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I’ve heard worse ideas than creating a spot by DFAing Stewart and rolling with Frankie and Romine the rest of the way, really. That and the DL situation with Betances are just fine by me.

    So Pena is STILL on the 40-man? Still caught in all that confusion from a few weeks ago.

    I also would be willing to take the risk that Justin Thomas isn’t going to morph into Dizzy Dean.

  • Raj

    Yankees need speed, Dickerson and Nunez would add that to the team. Plus Dickerson can play the OF unlike Jones or Ibanez. It would be a mistake if they left Dickerson to rot in AAA in September.

  • Frank

    What a sad indictment of the so-called depth of their minor league system. Not one quality position player worth a damn is available.