Projecting Yankees' Opening Day roster
TAMPA, Fla. -- The building blocks of a youth movement have been the story of the Yankees’ Spring Training, with prospects like Anthony Volpe and Jasson Domínguez stealing the show almost every afternoon and night. That has been a treat for managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, who said he’s enjoying this chance to see the next generation.
“I don’t think you can ignore the young kids,” Steinbrenner said. “It’s exciting for me personally because I’ve followed these kids for years. I’m over at the Gulf Coast League games when they’re first starting out, and all the way through their journey. For me, it’s always exciting … especially when they impress guys like [Aaron] Judge, which is what they’re doing.”
Here is our latest attempt at projecting the Yankees’ Opening Day roster:
Catcher (2): Jose Trevino, Kyle Higashioka
Trevino dealt with a right wrist sprain during camp, but he resumed playing on March 21 and said he will be ready for Opening Day. Trevino was an American League All-Star and a Gold Glove Award winner last season, when he recorded career highs in games (115), runs (39), hits (83), homers (11) and RBIs (43).
First baseman (1): Anthony Rizzo
Rizzo missed a couple of days with a “cranky” lower back, but he returned to the lineup on March 14 vs. the Blue Jays. He aims to remain on the field with a diligent maintenance program. Last year, Rizzo hit .224/.338/.480, slugging 32 homers to equal his career high.
Second baseman (2): Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu
Boone has said that he considers Torres his starting second baseman, with LeMahieu viewed as a utility option who will draw starts at first base, second base and third base to keep his bat in the lineup. LeMahieu has been healthy this spring after a foot injury hindered his second-half production; Boone said there have been “zero issues” for months.
Shortstop (2): Oswald Peraza, Isiah Kiner-Falefa
What, no Volpe here? Despite Volpe doing everything the club has asked of him in the shortstop competition, it’s still unclear if he can outrun a lack of experience at Triple-A, where he’s played just 22 games. As such, we’re still leaning toward Peraza as the Opening Day shortstop, with Kiner-Falefa shifting into a utility role.
But why not Volpe? Steinbrenner had an interesting remark on the subject, noting, “Look, we’re always concerned about our Minor League players; are they truly ready? Because this is not New York, and this is not the regular season. So we’ll have to see. It’ll be a long discussion, which I’ll be a part of. We’ve still got [some time] to go.”
Third baseman (1): Josh Donaldson
Though Donaldson hit just .222 with 15 homers and 62 RBIs in 132 games last season, Boone recently said that he is “not far removed from 2021, when he was still a wrecking ball,” adding that he believes the veteran had a strong winter. “I think you’re crazy to think that a bounce-back is not in there, offensively,” Boone said. “This guy still has bat speed and is super talented. Physically, at this point, he’s in a much better place than he was a year ago.”
Outfielders (4): Oswaldo Cabrera, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Estevan Florial
The Bombers may look to Judge as their starting center fielder until Harrison Bader returns from the injured list, which is projected to occur on or around April 20. Florial is out of Minor League options, which could nudge the Yankees to offer him another opportunity in the big leagues.
Other contenders include Willie Calhoun, who has impressed with his bat this spring though there are questions about his defense, and Rafael Ortega. Sorry, Domínguez isn’t in the mix; having played only five games at Double-A, he has been reassigned to Minor League camp.
Designated hitter (1): Giancarlo Stanton
Though the Yankees are looking to find some defensive innings for Stanton, he projects to be the Yanks’ regular DH, coming off a season in which he hit .211 with 31 homers and 78 RBIs. Stanton made 38 starts in the outfield -- 34 in right and four in left -- and Boone said he’d like to have Stanton in the outfield once or twice a week.
Starting pitchers (5): Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Domingo Germán, Clarke Schmidt, Nestor Cortes
With Carlos Rodón set to begin the season on the injured list, the envisioned fifth-starter battle between Germán and Schmidt has shifted into a tune-up for the regular season. Cole will draw his fourth consecutive Opening Day start, and Severino is confident in his stuff despite an ugly spring ERA. Cortes, slowed earlier this spring by a hamstring injury, made his first Grapefruit League start on March 18.
Relief pitchers (8): Albert Abreu, Clay Holmes, Michael King, Matt Krook, Jonathan Loáisiga, Ron Marinaccio, Wandy Peralta, Greg Weissert
Injuries have shifted the scene here, with Tommy Kahnle and Lou Trivino beginning the season on the injured list. Holmes will serve as the closer, with King, Loáisiga, Marinaccio and Peralta seemingly assured of roles. The lefty Krook is being converted into a reliever and the Yanks nearly activated him for the postseason last year, while Yanks players and coaches rave about Weissert’s nasty swing-and-miss stuff. Another name to note: Jimmy Cordero, who is on the 40-man roster, was unscored upon in four of his first five outings of the spring.