Tomorrow, Tomorrow, There’s Always Tomorrow:
All the pundits around baseball keep pointing to tomorrow as a day where the Yankees are going to have some moves done by. Why’s that? Well, it’s the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.
Let’s take a look at the Yankees 40-Man roster and the players who need protecting from the Rule 5 draft.
Let’s talk about it!
The Yankees are currently looking at a 40-Man roster that has no available spots to protect any of the prospects who are going to be eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Now, with 5 players on their Top-30 MLB Pipeline list, one would have to think that the Yankees are going to make some room for these players.
Below I have separated the Yankees 40-Man Roster into three sections and highlighted those 5 prospects that the Yankees are likely to highly consider protecting.
Players at MiLB Level/MLB Rookie Contracts:
Albert Abreu (RHP)
Nestor Cortes Jr. (LHP)
Deivi Garcia (RHP)
Luis Gil (RHP)
Yoendrys Gomez (RHP)
Michael King (RHP)
Luis Medina (RHP)
Nick Nelson (RHP)
Clarke Schmidt (RHP)
Donny Sands (C)
Chris Gittens (1B)
Oswald Peraza (SS)
Trey Amburgey (OF)
Estevan Florial (OF)
Players in Bold are Top-30 Prospects
Top-30 Prospects Needing Protection:
Everson Pereira (OF)
Oswaldo Cabrera (SS)
Josh Breaux (C)
Brandon Lockridge (OF)
Matt Sauer (RHP)
Players at the MLB Level: (Contracted)
Zack Britton (LHP)
Aroldis Chapman (LHP)
Gerrit Cole (RHP)
Joely Rodriguez (LHP)
Luis Severino (RHP)
DJ LeMahieu (2B)
Rougned Odor (INF)
Aaron Hicks (OF)
Giancarlo Stanton (OF/DH)
Players at the MLB Level (Arb):
Domingo German (RHP)
Chad Green (RHP)
Clay Holmes (RHP)
Jonathan Loaisiga (RHP)
Jordan Montgomery (LHP)
Wandy Peralta (LHP)
Jameson Taillon (RHP)
Kyle Higashioka (C)
Gary Sanchez (C)
Gleyber Torres (2B)
Gio Urshela (3B)
Luke Voit (1B)
Tyler Wade (INF)
Miguel Andujar (UTIL)
Clint Frazier (OF)
Joey Gallo (OF)
Aaron Judge (OF)
New Deal for Christmas:
Last week as part of the Friday mailbag, our writer Andy Singer put together his groupings of what prospects he would protect and what players he would be willing to dish away from the current MLB team. I highly recommend reading it, here. Andy is a top-notch baseball mind and I often find myself agreeing with him.
The beauty (and the fun) of the Rule-5 draft is that a team doesn’t need to protect their top prospects if they know that they are not going to survive in the MLB. If a team selects a prospect they must remain on the MLB roster through that entire next season or else they have to be sent back. Now, teams like the San Diego Padres a few years back in 2016 did take a big risk on a former Yankees catching prospect Luis Torrens. They selected him straight out of A-ball as a 19-year-old and they were able to stash him in the MLB for the entire 2017 season. However, this very rarely happens.
That being said, I think the Yankees are going to protect all 5 of their Top-30 prospects:
Everson Pereira showed a lot of promise last season with a near .700 combined slugging and is a future OF option at center field. Remember, he was supposedly in the Joey Gallo trade this past season, he has good value. (He’ll get protected.)
Oswaldo Cabrera is in Triple-A, is a switch hitter, and looks to be an upgraded version of Tyler Wade- with more power and a little less speed. He’s also the teams best second-base prospect and should make an MLB appearance in 2022. (He’ll get protected.)
Josh Breaux is the Yankees best catching prospect. Donny Sands (who is already protected) is ahead of him on the depth chart because he’s much closer to the MLB. Breaux has lots of potential going forward given a bat that’s coming around with solid enough defense. (He’ll get protected.)
Brandon Lockridge is a future speed-heavy, glove-first outfielder who showed improvement with the bat in 2021 and could be a 4th OF option next season. Regardless of the bat, leaving a guy with a 75/80 speed tool available means he’ll be taken. (He’ll get protected.)
Matt Sauer just put up his first professional season with 100+ innings pitched. He may be an outside-looking in option as a potential reliever for an MLB team (see: Garrett Whitlock), but I think he has the best odds to be passed by if unprotected. However, after seeing what the Red Sox did last year I think the Yankees protect Sauer to not fall victim to that again.
It’s the Hard Knock Life:
So, with at least 5 players who are going to be protected, how would I make the room for them going into the deadline tomorrow?
The easy and obvious answer is to trade, trade, trade. The Yankees have a lot of players that they can (and should) trade away (in no particular order):
The Yankees found lightning in a bottle with Luke Voit in 2018 and 2020. He’s coming off injury, but will be making around $5 million next season. With the DH likely coming to the NL in 2022, Voit could be a very interesting option for a cheap and good bat for those clubs.
The Yankees got Wandy Peralta for Mike Tauchman in the early part of the 2021 season and he was a solid part of the bullpen. With Joely Rodriguez and Nestor Cortes Jr. two arms that are likely to be ahead of him as lefties out of the bullpen, he may not have a large position for the team in 2022.
Zack Britton is already out of the 2022 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September. To remove him off the 40-Man roster would mean the Yankees would eat the whole $15 Million contract instead of allowing insurance to cover it if they can hold him until the 60-Man IL opens up again in February. However, they could try always try and trade that contract away.
Miguel Andujar has played just 78 games at the MLB level since 2019 with a combined 60 OPS+. He’s not worth much of anything anymore and could very likely be non-tendered before Friday.
Clint Frazier is an interesting player. He had a fantastic 2020 season in the outfield, but collapsed in 2021. He’s been plagued by injuries- the most scary being long-term concussions- during his career and has all the potential in the world. The Yankees can’t wait around forever for him to be healthy. Frazier seems like perfect trade fodder for a team looking to rebuild with some promising former prospects.
Rougned Odor was DFA’ed by the Texas Rangers last year, thus he is getting paid a perfect $0 by the New York Yankees. Because of this, he does hold value to the team, but with players like Tyler Wade (and Oswaldo Cabrera) his roster spot is not necessary for the 2021 Yankees. I was surprised with how much I liked Rougie this past season, but he’s an easy to remove player from the team.
Nick Nelson should be removed. He’s yet to prove it in the MLB and he’s an easy choice for a roster casualty after posting a 50 ERA+ this past season.
Chris Gittens finally made it to the MLB in 2021, but the Yankees cannot seriously consider him too valuable as his roster spot on the team is 3rd on the depth chart for first base behind Luke Voit and DJ LeMahieu. If they get a Matt Olson/bring back Anthony Rizzo, Gittens is another easy player to DFA.
Trey Amburgey is another Yankee who made his debut in 2021 and while he’s been a fun prospect to follow over the years, he’s not a necessary piece to keep around. Especially if his removal means a roster spot for Periera or Lockridge. If he gets DFA’ed, I do hope he comes back though.