Yanks outright Joel De La Cruz, lose Matt Tracy to Marlins on waivers

Tracy. (Presswire)
Tracy. (Presswire)

The Yankees have outrighted right-hander Joel De La Cruz off the 40-man roster, the team announced. He is with Triple-A Scranton. Also, the Marlins have claimed southpaw Matt Tracy, who was called up for a day and designated for assignment as part of that long man revolving door last week. Miami says they’ve optioned Tracy to Triple-A. There are now 39 players on the 40-man roster.

De La Cruz, 25, was with the Yankees for a few days last week but did not appear in a game. I don’t even think he warmed up. He had a 4.44 ERA (4.09 FIP) in 121.2 innings split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton last season. De La Cruz was the guy the Yankees tried to trade to the Cubs for Alfonso Soriano rather than Corey Black two years ago.

The 26-year-old Tracy allowed three unearned runs in two innings in his only game with New York last week. He had a 3.75 ERA (438 FIP) in 151 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last summer. Tracy was an interesting sleeper prospect a few years back but never did that next step in his development. I assume De La Cruz will step into the Triple-A rotation spot Tracy was expected to hold down this year.

Austin Romine clears waivers, outrighted to AAA Scranton

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Here is some slightly surprising news. Catcher Austin Romine has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Scranton, the Yankees announced. Romine was designated for assignment over the weekend after losing the backup catcher job to John Ryan Murphy. He is out of options and had to go through waivers before being assigned to Triple-A.

It appears the Yankees played the timing well. Romine was designated Saturday, giving the team ten days to trade, release, or waive him. They placed him on waivers Monday according to George King, a day after clubs had to set their Opening Day rosters. Teams had already selected their backup catcher and committed to that guy’s contract before Romine hit waivers. Sneaky!

Because Romine has less than three years of service time and has never been outrighted before, he was unable to elect free agency after clearing waivers. He’ll go to Triple-A and play regularly — the preliminary RailRiders roster lists Eddy Rodriguez and Kyle Higashioka at catcher, and I suspect Higashioka will now be bumped down a level — and be the de facto third catch in case of injury.

Romine, 26, is a career .204/.247/.281 (41 wRC+) hitter in 181 big league plate appearances and a .243/.303/.365 hitter in 445 career Triple-A plate appearances. The various stats say he’s been a quality pitch framer and ultimately his value comes from his defense, not his bat. Glad to see Romine’s still around. Catching depth is always a good thing, especially when they already know the pitching staff.

Yankees finalize Opening Day roster with latest round of roster moves

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

3:25pm: The Yankees have officially announced their Opening Day roster. It is exactly as presented below. No surprises.

10:00am: The Opening Day roster has been slowly coming together over the last several weeks, and yesterday afternoon the Yankees made the roster all but official with their latest round of moves, including Austin Romine being designated for assignment. Here is the 25-man roster the Yankees will take into the regular season tomorrow:

CATCHERS (2)
Brian McCann
John Ryan Murphy

INFIELDERS (7)
Stephen Drew
Didi Gregorius
Chase Headley
Garrett Jones
Gregorio Petit
Alex Rodriguez
Mark Teixeira

OUTFIELDERS (4)
Carlos Beltran
Brett Gardner
Jacoby Ellsbury
Chris Young

STARTERS (5)
Nathan Eovaldi
Michael Pineda
CC Sabathia
Masahiro Tanaka
Adam Warren

RELIEVERS (7)
Dellin Betances
David Carpenter
Chris Martin
Andrew Miller
Esmil Rogers
Chasen Shreve
Justin Wilson

DISABLED LIST (4)
Chris Capuano (quad) — retroactive to March 27th
Ivan Nova (Tommy John surgery) — retroactive to March 27th
Jose Pirela (concussion) — retroactive to April 2nd
Brendan Ryan (calf) — retroactive to April 1st

Pirela was placed on the 7-day concussion DL while Capuano, Nova, and Ryan were all placed on the regular old 15-day DL. Petit takes Romine’s spot on the 40-man roster, which is full. The Yankees can transfer Nova to the 60-day DL whenever they need another 40-man spot since he’s not expected to return until June. Romine, Petit, and the DL assignments were the moves announced yesterday.

Despite those injuries, the Yankees made it through Spring Training as the healthiest team in the AL East, just as we all expected. The rest of the roster is pretty straight forward. Warren was named the fifth starter a few days ago and it was clear Shreve and Martin were going to make the Opening Day roster once Chase Whitley was optioned to Triple-A. Joe Girardi is planning to use Betances and Miller as co-closers to start the season, which is pretty cool. Hopefully it works as planned. Carpenter and Wilson figure to be the sixth and seventh inning guys.

As always, the 25-man roster is going to change throughout the course of the season. Quite a bit too. Petit figures to be replaced by Pirela or Ryan, whoever gets healthy first, and those bullpen spots belonging to Shreve and Martin could be revolving doors given the team’s relief pitcher depth. That includes Capuano, who could wind up working in relief if Warren fares well as the fifth starter. For now, this is the group of Yankees to start the new season.

Yankees designate Austin Romine for assignment, John Ryan Murphy wins backup catcher job

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The backup catcher competition is over. The Yankees have designated Austin Romine for assignment, the team announced following this afternoon’s game. “He had a tough spring. You wish the best for the kid,” said Joe Girardi according to Ryan Hatch.

Romine, 26, is out of minor league options, meaning he couldn’t go to Triple-A without passing through waivers. The DFA gives the Yankees more time to figure things out — they now have ten days to trade, release, or waive Romine. If he clears waivers, he can go to Triple-A as a non-40-man roster player.

The move means John Ryan Murphy will be Brian McCann‘s backup to start the season, as expected. The writing has been on the wall since last season. Although Romine spent most of 2013 with the Yankees, Murphy got called up last year when Frankie Cervelli got hurt and then again as the third catcher in September.

The 25-man Opening Day roster is set, for all intents and purposes. The Yankees just have to make it official. Murphy will be the backup catcher, Gregorio Petit the backup infielder, and Chasen Shreve and Chris Martin the sixth and seventh relievers in the bullpen.

Latest roster cuts clarify Opening Day bullpen and bench pictures

(Presswire)
Whitley. (Presswire)

The Yankees announced their latest round of roster cuts earlier today, optioning Chase Whitley to Triple-A Scranton and reassigning non-roster invitees Rob Refsnyder, Nick Noonan, and Eddy Rodriguez to minor league camp. By my count there are still 32 players in big league camp, four of whom are injured (Brendan Ryan, Chris Capuano, Ivan Nova, Vicente Campos).

Today’s roster cuts clarify if not finalize the Opening Day bullpen and bench pictures. Whitley was one of four candidates left for the final two bullpen spots along with Andrew Bailey, Chasen Shreve, and Chris Martin. Bailey told Mark Feinsand today he will stay behind when the team heads north tomorrow and continue working his way back from shoulder surgery with High-A Tampa when the minor league season begins. That leaves Shreve and Martin for the last two bullpen spots.

Ryan’s calf injury opened up the backup infielder’s spot, and while Joe Girardi hinted at Refsnyder being a candidate for the job, his reassignment to minor league camp today confirms he won’t make the team. Same with Noonan. Fellow reserve infielder candidate Cole Figueroa was sent to minor league camp last week, leaving the recently acquired Gregorio Petit as the front-runner for the backup infielder’s job. That makes sense, he can play defense all around the infield (unlike Refsnyder) and is right-handed hitter (unlike Didi Gregorius, Stephen Drew, Noonan, and Figueroa).

I’m very surprised Whitley was sent down. He’s pitched very well in camp. I guess the Yankees feel Whitley is more valuable as the sixth starter in Triple-A than as the second long man in MLB. The backup infielder situation is whatever. As I said this morning, sitting on bench does Refsnyder no good, and picking between Petit, Noonan, and Figueroa is a toss-up. There’s no right or wrong answer. There’s just an answer, and it appears the answer is Petit.

Adam Warren has officially been named the fifth starter, and with Shreve, Martin, and Petit now looking like safe bets for the Opening Day roster, the only position battle left in camp is for the backup catcher’s job. All signs from the last 12 months point to John Ryan Murphy being the guy, but Austin Romine is out of minor league options and Brian Cashman admitted that will play a role in the decision. We’ll see.

Yankees acquire infielder Gregorio Petit from Astros

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

8:39pm: Done deal, both teams have announced the trade. Petit for a player to be named or cash, as Ortiz reported.

8:38pm: According to Jose de Jesus Ortiz, the Yankees have acquired infielder Gregorio Petit from the Astros. He was with Houston as a non-roster player and was recently reassigned to minor league camp, so he’s not on the 40-man roster. The Yankees are sending a player to be named later or cash to the Astros in the swap.

Petit, 30, hit .278/.300/.423 (102 OPS+) in exactly 100 plate appearances with the Astros last year. It was his first MLB action since 2009. Petit is a right-handed hitter and a career .269/.323/.373 career hitter in over 2,800 (!) Triple-A plate appearances. He has experience all over the infield and is considered a sound defender.

The Yankees lost Brendan Ryan to a calf injury earlier today and are still without Jose Pirela (concussion), so Petit helps replenish their infield depth. I wouldn’t assume he’s automatically the favorite to be the backup infielder during Ryan’s absence, however. He’s just an extra body.

Eddy: Yankees sign Mat Gamel to minor league contract

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

According to Mat Eddy, the Yankees have signed first baseman and former top Brewers prospect Mat Gamel to what we can safely assume is a minor league contract. No idea if he’ll come to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. Mat is the older brother of Yankees farmhand Ben Gamel, an outfielder who spent last season with Double-A Trenton.

Gamel, 29, has not played at all since 2012 due to a series of knee injuries, specifically torn right ACLs. He tore it the first time in May 2012 running into a wall chasing a pop-up, re-tore it during a Spring Training workout in 2013, then injured the knee again working out at home prior to the 2014 season. Gamel has been rehabbing and working his way back since then.

When he last played in 2012, Gamel went 17-for-69 (.246) with one homer in 21 games for Milwaukee. He’s a career .229/.305/.367 (78 wRC+) hitter in 269 big league plate appearances and a .301/.374/.512 (~120 wRC+) hitter in over 1,200 Triple-A plate appearances. Baseball America ranked Gamel as the 34th best prospect in baseball prior to 2009, but gosh, that was a long time ago.

Kyle Roller, Greg Bird, and Mike Ford are set to be the starting first basemen at Triple-A Scranton, Double-A Trenton, and High-A Tampa, respectively, so it’s unclear where Gamel fits in at the moment. He might still be rehabbing for all we know. Gamel could be a DH candidate at Triple-A or Double-A, but there’s no reason to think he’s some sort of big league option.