Predicting the Yankees' Opening Day roster

Veteran outfielder Ellsbury will vie with Frazier for outfield role

February 10th, 2019

As he prepares for his second season as the Yankees' manager, Aaron Boone believes that he has a complete team at his disposal, excited by the promise that he senses while surveying the potential 25-man roster that could go north for the March 28 season opener against the Orioles.
"You look at the moves we've made this winter, it's hard to deny that we haven't significantly improved our club," Boone said. "We feel like we have a team capable of hopefully going out and competing for a championship."
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With pitchers and catchers set to report to Spring Training on Wednesday, here is's early prediction for the Yankees' Opening Day roster:
Catcher (2):,
The Yankees have doubled and tripled down on Sanchez's future, refusing to believe that his underwhelming 2018 was representative of his talent. General manager Brian Cashman believes that Sanchez's performance will improve following left shoulder surgery performed in November. Romine provides a capable defender who contributed big knocks early in the season.
First base (1):
The hulking Voit is said to have a leg up over challenger coming into camp, by virtue of a terrific second half in which he hit an American League-high 14 homers from Aug. 24 through the end of the season. Only , the eventual National League Most Valuable Player Award winner, homered more over that span. Bird needs to shake the injury bug and reclaim the form that thrilled the Bronx at the end of the 2015 season.
Second base (1):
Torres will continue to carry big expectations as he enters his second big league season, having ranked second among Major League rookies with 77 RBIs and fourth with 24 homers, good for third in the AL Rookie of the Year Award race. His numbers would have been even more impressive had he not missed most of July due to injury. A natural shortstop, the 22-year-old will be available to play on that side of the bag as well.

Third base (1):
One of the Yanks' most consistent performers from wire to wire, Andujar finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting, hitting .297 with 47 doubles, 27 homers and 92 RBIs. He led all big league rookies in hits (170), doubles, RBIs, extra-base hits (76) and multi-hit games (53). Although he struggled defensively, registering a Defensive Runs Saved of -25, there is belief that Andujar can develop into a solid defender at the hot corner.
Shortstop (1):
The Yanks promised Tulowitzki an opportunity to serve as their shortstop while they wait for to return this summer, so if Tulowitzki can make it through the spring healthy, he is the odds-on favorite to play regularly. That is not a given, as Tulowitzki has not played in a big league game since July 2017 due to ankle and foot injuries, though his athleticism impressed the club at a recent showcase.

Outfield (5): , , , ,
Cashman recently said that if the season was underway, he'd envision Gardner in left field, Hicks in center field and Judge in right field, with Stanton serving as the primary designated hitter. That leaves a reserve spot up for grabs, and it could go to Ellsbury, assuming he makes a full return from left hip surgery performed in August. If Ellsbury is not ready or can be traded, has said that he intends to steal playing time from Gardner.

Utility (1):
Boone has said that he wants to use LeMahieu as a super sub, seeing time at second base, third base and shortstop, with first base also a possibility. LeMahieu offers Gold Glove-caliber defense at second base, so in the event that Tulowitzki is unavailable, the Yanks could present a tight middle infield by sliding Torres to shortstop and using LeMahieu at second base. 's chances of making the roster would then improve.
Starting pitchers (5): , , , , .
Though the order can change, the Yankees' starting five appears to be set, barring injuries. The greatest concern will be Sabathia, who is coming off right knee surgery and an angioplasty as he prepares for his final big league season. Sabathia will also begin the year serving a five-game suspension for his actions in a game against the Rays last September, so the Yanks will likely carry an extra arm in the bullpen until the southpaw is reinstated.
Relief pitchers (8): , Zack Britton, , , , , ,
No bullpen ever recorded a higher strikeout-per-nine-innings ratio than the 2018 Yankees, who fanned 11.4 batters per nine innings. In fact, the Yanks have led the Majors in bullpen in that each of the last five seasons. This year promises to be no different after re-signing Britton and importing Ottavino to join Betances, Green and Holder in setting up for Chapman. German could fit as a long reliever, with Cessa (who is out of Minor League options) providing early-season depth due to Sabathia's suspension. , and are among those who could make this list with strong springs.

Aware of the ongoing clamor for the Yankees to add or , managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner has advised fans to "keep an open mind that I'm never done until I'm done, and that's usually not until Opening Day." Barring a splash of that magnitude, the team still believes that it has upgraded over the squad that reached the 100-win mark in 2018.
Gary Sanchez
Austin Romine
Miguel Andujar
Gleyber Torres
Troy Tulowitzki
Luke Voit
Jacoby Ellsbury
Brett Gardner
Aaron Hicks
Aaron Judge
Giancarlo Stanton
DJ LeMahieu
Luis Severino
James Paxton
Masahiro Tanaka
J.A. Happ
CC Sabathia
Aroldis Chapman (closer)
Dellin Betances
Zack Britton
Luis Cessa
Domingo German
Chad Green
Jonathan Holder
Adam Ottavino
Didi Gregorius, SS