Yankees Mid-Season Update
by James Vleitstra
July 10, 2022
Unless you have been living under a rock, you should be well aware that the New York Yankees have had a historically successful start to the 2022 season. So what should we anticipate as we grind through the rest of the summer and march towards fall and what we hope will be a deep postseason run?
First, General Manager Brian Cashman needs to assess the roster and decide what additions are needed to put them over the top. During this process, he has to navigate the Rule 4 amateur draft as well as prepare his team for the Rule 5, draft that will occur at the winter meetings.
All of these seem like separate activities to normal fans, but to the front office these are all very fluid, interrelated actions. As Newton would say, each action has a reaction. For example, last winter, they didn’t sign a free agent shortstop because they felt the money could be better spent elsewhere and they have a plethora of talented shortstops advancing through the minors.
As recently as 2019, by this point in the year, the draft would be over, the Short Season leagues would have been started, the new class of international free agents would be well on its way and teams would have already begun releasing players that they decided to cut ties with. This year, that is all on the horizon.
So let’s start with attempting to get Into Brian Cashman’s mind. What roster moves are needed.
Catcher? An upgrade is possible.
Infield? Could the Yankees be better at short?
Outfield? Hicks is coming around, but Gallo has been a disappointment.
The Starting Rotation? Inning limits could be a concern.
The Bullpen? Another arm is always welcome.
The Yankees have Domingo German progressing through his injury rehab assignment. German, along with JP Sears and Clarke Schmidt, should secure the rotation going forward - maybe the bullpen. I now wonder - Is Estevan Florial a viable outfield option? Or, what about Oswald Peraza for short? They have both recently been on fire in the minors. If they aren’t the immediate answer, a move from outside the organization may be needed.
The Yankees boast one of baseball’s best farm systems. Last year they acquired Joey Gallo, Jameson Taillon, Anthony Rizzo, and Clay Holmes using mostly players that would have needed to be protected in the Rule 5 draft like Josh Smith, Ezequiel Duran, Glenn Otto, Alexander Vizcaino, Miguel Yajure, Roansy Contreras, Canaan Smith, Hoy Park, and Diego Castillo. This, again, is an example of how some moves are predicated by other organizational needs. The Yankees simply cannot protect all of their valuable minor league pieces. Trades sometimes have to be made.
This year, the Yankees have almost 140 players that are Rule 5 draft eligible or in their minors already on their 40-man roster. Here is the complete list. A typical 40-man roster consists of 26 active players, 3-4 injured players, and another 10-12 in the minors, many of which are optioned and recalled as needed. They can’t all be protected.
I have long been a proponent of allowing teams to trade draft picks. This would be a good way for a team like the Yankees to trade quantity for quality. They could trade 3-4 Major League ready players for a top tier pick. Until that happens, they will continue picking late (25th this year) and develop the talent and eventually choose which ones to hold onto.
If a player like Ken Waldichuk was in any other organization, he would have been handed a 40-man roster spot long ago and would have made his MLB debut. However, on the Yankees those roster spots are such a premium that deserving players are often times not promoted as early as as fans would want.
The following players are all Rule 5 eligible players that are currently on MLB Pipeline top 30 for the Yankees:
5 Ken Waldichuk
7 Hayden Wesneski
15 Randy Vasquez
16 Alexander Vargas
17 Brandon Lockridge
18 Antonio Gomez
19 TJ Sikkema
25 Josh Breaux
30 Edgar Barclay
Those are in addition to these prospects who already have coveted roster positions:
2 Oswald Peraza
8 Yoendrys Gomez
9 Luis Gil
10 Everson Pereira
11 Luis Medina
13 Oswaldo Cabrera
23 JP Sears
28 Deivi Garcia
29 Estevan Florial
Here are some other highlighted players that will be currently eligible to be selected by other teams at the conclusion of the winter meetings. Note, several of these were high round draft picks and former top 30 players or Garrett Whitlock type relievers. Sean Boyle, Juan Carela, Blas Castano, Derek Craft, Nick Ernst, Anthony Garcia, Ryder Green, Matt Krook, Denny Larrondo, Nolan Martinez, Tanner Myatt, Osiel Rodriguez, Ronny Rojas, Raimfer Salinas, Madison Santos, Matt Sauer, Anthony Seigler, and Greg Weissert.
There is a plethora of talent in the Yankees' system.
Obviously all of those players won’t be selected. But, if having about a dozen prospects on the roster is typical. Right now there’s 8 of their top 30 that will need to be traded before December. Along with the other highlighted players, there are probably closer to 12-15 players who will be moved at some point.
Maybe they can package 4-5 players together for a team’s top prospect that may not yet be Rule 5 eligible. Perhaps they overpay for a Brian Reynolds type, if they can avoid dealing Volpe, Dominguez and Waldichuk. For instance, Wells, Wesneski,, Cabrera, Vargas, Lockridge, Andujar, and Breaux could all be moved. There is a lot of talent there. How many of those types of high upside players would a team like the Pirates ask for? Would the Yankees do something like that? A trade with many players would restock a team's system while giving the Yankees a key component to a possible 28th World Series, and also while also, simultaneously, clearing the impending 40-man logjam.
Keep this in mind when the deals happen. The decisions Brian Cashman will make will focus more on just the immediate as there are a bunch of factors that go into every decision. And the Yankees have a lot of decisions to make.