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The 40-Man Roster Crunch: Finding Room for DJ and Kluber

After the Yankees have agreed to deals with INF DJ LeMahieu and RHP Corey Kluber, they will have to make space on the 40-Man Roster. We’ll look at the roster construction, highlight two candidates who could likely be dropped, and consider one move that would solve this problem simply.

The Yankees’ 40 man roster is full. They’ll need to clear two spots to add DJ LeMahieu and Corey Kluber. — Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) January 16, 2021

The Current 40-Man Roster: (as of 1/17/21)

Players with Guaranteed MLB Contracts (7):

Gerrit Cole (9/$324M from 2020 to 2028)

Giancarlo Stanton (13/$325M from 2015 to 2027+)

Aroldis Chapman (3/$48M from 2020 to 2022)

Zack Britton (3/$39M from 2019 to 2021+)

Aaron Hicks (7/$70M from 2019 to 2025)

Luis Severino (4/$40M from 2019 to 2022)

Adam Ottavino (3/$27M from 2019 to 2021)

Players Going through Arb-Eligible Years (10):

Aaron Judge ($10.175M)

Gary Sanchez ($6.35M)

Luke Voit ($4.7M)

Gio Urshela ($4.65M)

Gleyber Torres ($4.0M)

Chad Green ($2.15M)

Jordan Montgomery ($2.13M)

Clint Frazier ($2.1M)

Luis Cessa ($1.05M)

Ben Heller ($625K)

Players on Rookie Contracts (10):

Greg Allen

Miguel Andujar

Thairo Estrada

Mike Ford

Domingo German

Kyle Higashioka

Michael King

Jonathan Loaisiga

Mike Tauchman

Tyler Wade

Prospects (13):

Clarke Schmidt ( #2)

Deivi Garcia ( #3)

Oswald Peraza ( #4)

Luis Gil ( #5)

Estevan Florial ( #7)

Alexander Vizcaino ( #8)

Yoendrys Gomez ( #9)

Luis Medina ( #11)

Albert Abreu ( #12)

Miguel Yajure ( #15)

Roansy Contreras ( #19)

Brooks Kriske (NR)

Nick Nelson (NR)


Who is On the Chopping Block?

One assumption I will be making before considering cuts is that each of the players who have MLB contracts (or the left side of that list) will not be considered for being dropped. This leaves us with 23 viable names of players (or the right side of that list) to be considered for being DFA’ed (designated for assignment).

Let’s start with some obvious players who are going to stay: Domingo German, Kyle Higashioka, and Jonathan Loaisiga. German is likely to start a decent amount of games for the Yankees in 2021, Higgy is the back-up catcher (with very little depth behind him), and though Loaisiga has had health problems he has been a solid MLB contributor. On top of these three, I would also consider each of the prospects who are ranked via to not be considered for being DFA’ed due to their future and/or trade value. This removes 14 of the 23 names.

Up next, we’ll keep any former good prospect which includes: Miguel Andujar, Thairo Estrada, Michael King, and Tyler Wade. It may seem redundant to keep 3 back-up infielders, but these players serve as good depth and hold some value as trade commodities so a DFA wouldn’t be considered. Michael King is also a potential spot-starter during a long stretch of no breaks in the 2021 season. I’d also put both Greg Allen and Mike Tauchman in this category as they are Outfielders #4 and #5 and are very likely going to be needed if the last few seasons have taught us anything. I’d also save Nick Nelson because while he lost prospect status before rookie status, he has a strong track record as a pitcher in the minors.

This leaves us with the following names to be DFA’ed: Mike Ford and Brooks Kriske.

I personally don’t see a reason to keep around Mike Ford, especially after the DJ LeMahieu signing. If something was to happen to Luke Voit, the Yankees have someone they can sub in to fill the role temporarily in DJ, or if it’s a longer-term issue until they can acquire another true first baseman. I can count 10 available free agent 1B that I have heard of on Spotrac and finding a serviceable 1B to trade for during a season wouldn’t be difficult. There is also likely a good chance Ford would pass through every team and be able to stay in the organization.

Brooks Kriske is in a tougher spot as he has very little success and playing time due to a 2016 Tommy John Surgery. Ultimately, the Yankees have a ton of available pitchers who are currently better or project to be better and Kriske would find the short end of the stick.

According to @JimBowdenGM in MLB radio, the #Yankees have been in talks with the #Reds RHP Luis Castillo.@z101digital @ZDeportes — Héctor Gómez (@hgomez27) January 16, 2021

There is Another Possibility:

The Yankees are rumored to be in talks with the Cincinnati Reds on acquiring their RHP Luis Castillo. I did a profile on him back in late-December before the trades of Blake Snell and Yu Darvish. While I touched on both of them later in the week, neither the Snell or Darvish deals met what I expected, which means I may be thinking too high with what the Reds would ask in return.

Ultimately, I’m not going to take another stab at creating another deal, but the perception is that it would take a number of players to complete. As long as it took 3 players across the board (1 for each of DJ, Kluber, and Castillo), then the Yankees would fix their 40-Man Roster problem. It is also almost a guarantee that any deal for Castillo would include 3 (or more) players from the Yankees.

One common thread I see is the idea of Clint Frazier, one of Deivi Garcia/Clarke Schmidt, and another pitching prospect (Medina, Abreu, Yajure, etc.). While I think that is a little light going back to the Reds, the framework for a deal around that could have some merit.


Article By: Ethan Semendinger

Date Published: January 17th, 2021


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