NEW YORK -- The Yankees’ Opening Day roster has been finalized, with general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone signing off on a 28-man squad that they believe will have all the makings of a championship contender.
New York is carrying 16 pitchers to open the regular season, believing that innings will be at a premium during the first weeks of the campaign. The Bombers believe that they have assembled an ideal mix of arms, offensive thump and defense, ready to do battle in a hyper-competitive American League East.
“We have the guys in the room to do it, the guys in the front office and coaching staff to prepare us,” said ace right-hander Gerrit Cole, who will start Friday’s opener. “We have the ownership to go out and get anything that we need to push it over the line. We’re all kind of connected in our same goal.”
Opening Day is set for Friday against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Here is the set roster to begin the 2022 season:
Catcher (2): Kyle Higashioka, Jose Trevino
Higashioka is set to take on starting catcher duties, hoping to carry his excellent spring offensive production north -- Higashioka leads the Majors with seven spring homers. Trevino was acquired from the Rangers late in the spring, providing an excellent pitch framer to share time behind the plate while Ben Rortvedt (acquired from the Twins in March) recovers from an oblique strain.
First base (1): Anthony Rizzo
Rizzo returned to New York with a two-year, $32 million contract in March, stepping back in as the starting first baseman after a 49-game audition last year in which he batted .249/.340/.428 with eight homers and 21 RBIs, adding left-handed balance and a defensive upgrade to the mix. A three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner, Rizzo slashed a combined .248/.344/.440 with 22 homers and 61 RBIs in 141 games last season.
Second base (2): DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres
The Yankees believe they can solve the puzzle of finding at-bats for LeMahieu, who is showing renewed pop this spring after recovering from core surgery. LeMahieu will likely bounce between second, first and third base, while Torres picks up the majority of starts at second base. Torres’ shortstop experiment ended in September, and the Yanks see Torres as a better fit on the other side of the bag.
Third base (1): Josh Donaldson
The oldest player on the roster at 36 years old, Donaldson said he intends to prove that there is plenty left in the tank, pointing to his robust Statcast numbers from last season. A three-time All-Star and the 2015 American League MVP with the Blue Jays, the “Bringer of Rain” slashed .247/.352/.475 with 26 home runs and 72 RBIs in 135 games for the Twins last season. He’ll probably see some reps in the designated hitter spot, which would create defensive innings for LeMahieu.
Shortstop (1): Isiah Kiner-Falefa
After club brass passed on what was arguably baseball’s most loaded crop of free agent shortstops, Kiner-Falefa will have a chance to live out his boyhood dream when “Hawaiian Hustle” suits up in pinstripes. The Yanks believe they can unlock double-digit home run production from the confident 27-year-old. A plus defender who won a 2020 Gold Glove at third base, Kiner-Falefa slashed .271/.312/.357 with eight homers and 53 RBIs in 158 games for the Rangers last season.
Outfield (4): Joey Gallo, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton
The Yankees envision an Opening Day outfield of Gallo, Hicks and Judge, from left to right, with Stanton likely to fill the DH role. Stanton’s improved health and ability to play the outfield will be utilized more this year; he made 16 appearances in right field and 10 in left field last season. Boone has mentioned using Judge in center field occasionally to spell Hicks, who appears trimmer and healthy after recovering from left wrist surgery.
Utility/bench (1): Marwin Gonzalez New York opted for a three-man bench, adding Gonzalez to a group that also includes the backup catcher Trevino and the jack-of-many-trades LeMahieu. Gonzalez had a terrific spring and offers veteran presence along with the ability to play six positions.
Starting pitchers (5): Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Jameson Taillon, Jordan Montgomery, Néstor Cortes Jr.
The Bombers’ postseason hopes heavily rest upon Cole, a bona fide ace who will begin his third season in pinstripes with an Opening Day start. Severino dealt with arm soreness in March but is slotted in for the season’s second game, while Taillon appears mostly healthy coming off right ankle surgery. Montgomery is looking to build upon a year in which he notched career highs in starts (30), innings (157 1/3) and strikeouts (162). With Domingo Germán on the 60-day injured list, Cortes is game to do whatever the team needs -- starting, relief duty or bulk innings.
Relievers (11): Aroldis Chapman (CL), Chad Green, Clay Holmes, Michael King, Jonathan Loáisiga, Lucas Luetge, Wandy Peralta, Miguel Castro, JP Sears, Ron Marinaccio, Clarke Schmidt
Given the need to fill innings and a taxing April schedule, the club is valuing arms, believing that its starters will be limited the first turn or two through the rotation. The highest-leverage innings figure to be issued to Chapman, Loáisiga, Green and Holmes. Zack Britton is recovering from Tommy John surgery and won’t be available until August or September.