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The Off-Season: Red Thunder Goes Under And Other Developments

The Off-Season: Red Thunder Goes Under And Other Developments.

By Tim Kabel

November 20, 2021

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This was a dizzying week for Yankees’ fans and I’m sure the players as well. There were multiple articles and blogs posted this week concerning the direction the 2022 Yankees would take. At various points, we were assured that Starling Marte was clearly in the Yankees’ sights, Justin Verlander was essentially guaranteed to be pitching for the Yankees and either Carlos Correa or Corey Seager would be the new shortstop in the Bronx. Of course, Marte is unsigned and Verlander re-signed with the Astros. We are now being told the Yankees are more likely to sign a stop-gap player at shortstop while their two top prospects, Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe continue to develop. Being a Yankees’ fan this week was like driving across the country with Sybil as your navigator. The only thing you were certain of was that things would change fairly quickly. Late yesterday, the roster began to take shape as some moves were finally made.

In preparation for the Rule 5 draft, all teams had to finalize their 40-man rosters by 6:00 PM on Friday. Although the Yankees have not signed any marquee free agents, they did make several moves yesterday to clear spots for some young players in the minors. Rougned Odor, Tyler Wade, and Clint Frazier were designated for assignment. Nick Nelson and catcher Donny Sands were traded to Philadelphia in exchange for two 21-year-old minor leaguers. Sands tenure with the Yankees was like sand in the hourglass; it passed quickly

Rougned Odor lasted just one season as a Yankee, despite the Rangers paying his whole salary. Clint Frazier went from being the starting left fielder at the beginning of the year to being designated for assignment at the end of the year. It was a mystifying and sad end to a Yankees’ career that was characterized by unfulfilled potential and unfortunate circumstances. Frazier last played for the Yankees in June, when he was shut down due to dizziness and vision problems. Earlier in his career, he lost a significant amount of time because of a concussion and its aftereffects. When he was on the field, he showed flashes of tremendous potential. I, for one, am saddened to see him leave the team and I hope he is able to resurrect his career somewhere else.

The most surprising cut of all to me was Tyler Wade. Although he is not a great player by any stretch of the imagination, he was certainly versatile, as he played every outfield position and every infield position except first base. He was also used as a late-inning defensive replacement and a pinch runner. He provided an element of speed and versatility that the team was otherwise lacking. Apparently, they believe they can fill his role with someone else and not be adversely affected. At this point, there does not appear to be an identified backup infielder on the Major League roster. There are worse things in the world but, it is something that will need to be addressed. To fill the vacancies on the 40-man roster, the Yankees added Oswaldo Cabrera, Ron Marinaccio, Everson Pereira, Steven Ridings and JP Sears. The Yankees now have the rare distinction of having players named both Oswald and Oswaldo on the 40-man roster.

Now that they have tweaked and adjusted the 40-man roster, the Yankees are ready to begin adding major pieces. I anticipate the rumor mill will begin churning again almost immediately. Speculation regarding the team’s direction in the areas of first base, shortstop, centerfield, and starting pitching will run rampant over the next few days. Brian Cashman has protected the minor leaguers whom he feels are important to the Yankees immediate and long-term future. I’m certain that he will now focus on adding essential pieces to make the team a contender next year. Since we were practically guaranteed that Justin Verlander would be in the Yankees’ rotation a few hours before he actually signed with Houston, I am not about to believe all the media articles I am reading. At this point, we are supposed to accept the fact that the Yankees will not sign any of the top shortstops because they feel Oswald Peraza and/or Anthony Volpe will be ready to fill that spot fairly soon and therefore, they will only need a placeholder, or a bookmark. I’m skeptical of this theory because it would be just as likely that they signed someone who can play shortstop now but, will ultimately shift to third base when one of the kids is ready.

So, sit back, fold up your Clint Frazier jersey, get a cup of cocoa, and wait patiently while your head is spinning from the thoughts of Freddie Freeman, Matt Olson, Anthony Rizzo, Robbie Ray, and Carlos Correa all pulling on pinstriped jerseys for next season. Something will happen. I will guarantee that. We just don’t know what it is, and it certainly won’t be everything that is being reported because that would involve four first baseman, six shortstops, five starting pitchers, and a partridge in a pear tree.

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