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Slade Heathcott with the Trenton Thunder in 2014 (Rand Greenblatt)

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The 40-Man, Who May Go

Following this past week’s maneuvering  to protect certain key prospects from Rule V, the Yankees’ 40-man roster took on a different look

This roster will be revised again and again before Spring Training convenes in a few months. There are spots that need to be vacated and filled with others.

At present, for instance, David Robertson, Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy, who are free-agents, are not on the 40-man, but recently signed pitcher Jose De Paula is. Pitcher Ivan Nova is, but, since he is not figured back until June, could be placed on the 60-day disabled list at some point in the future to open a spot.

Let’s take a look at who might move off the 40-man by position:

PITCHERS

Depending on what transpires, one could see right-hander Preston Claiborne losing his spot or being involved in a trade. The bullpen lineup will certainly change with the addition of Justin Wilson. One could wonder about the futures of lefty David Huff and righties Emil Rogers and Adam Warren.

Righty Jose Campos, who came from Seattle in the Michael Pineda trade, has talent, but has been hurt a lot and has not advanced past Class A. Righty Jose Ramirez has also been bitten by the injury bug. Both may be in play.

CATCHERS

This is where intrigue and possible trades can take place. Even after the swap sending Francisco Cervelli to Pittsburgh, the 40-man still has four catchers listed – Brian McCann, John Ryan Murphy, Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez. Chances are good at least one of the four will be moved in a trade.

Obviously McCann isn’t a trade candidate, while Murphy, who has the best catching fundamentals and game-calling skills of the four, will continue to progress. The Yankees would have to be bowled over with an outstanding offer for Murphy, who could seriously start for several major-league teams and, at this point, serves as an excellent backup. Pitchers love throwing to him and he controls the running game well.

On the other hand, this corner feels both Romine and Sanchez are very tradable. Romine, his career short-circuited by injuries, is a solid backstop, but does not have the overall skills of Murphy. Several teams still see value in him, and there is a possibility the Yankees could get a decent prospect in return for him.  As far as Sanchez is concerned, there is trade value there.

Turning 22, Dec. 2, Sanchez has progressed, but his game behind the plate remains only fair. He is ticketed for Triple-A Scranton if he stays in the organization. His bat is developing slowly. He showed some power at Trenton in 2014, and the ability to line balls to the wall in all fields. He also served a suspension for shirking a few non-game responsibilities, which didn’t earn him a lot of points in the maturity standings, but did seem to focus more in the second half of the season.

The feeling here is either Romine or Sanchez could be moved over the winter.

INFIELDERS

Jose Pirela, Martin Prado, Alex Rodriguez, Brendan Ryan and Mark Teixeira presently make up this contingent, which could change in a number of ways,

The Yankees want to re-sign Headley and will certainly look for an upgrade at shortstop over Ryan. The shortstop closest to the majors in the system is Ali Castillo, who likely will be at Scranton to start 2015. Pirela has established himself as a solid utility player with a bit of pop in his bat. He can play second base, which is his best position, shortstop, third base and the outfield. He likely will keep his spot unless Rob Refsnyder beats him out in the spring, which does not seem likely, giving his defensive shortcomings.

It will be interesting to see what develops here.

OUTFIELDERS

Some wondered why the Yankees protected Mason Williams. The answer is why lose him in Rule 5 for $50,000 when 10 times that is invested in him. His defense Division I in every way, his approach at the plate Division III. What’s frustrating is he hasn’t improved offensively and actually regressed in 2014. At this point, he will either be included as a throw-in as part of a trade – some teams value his speed and defense – or start a third season at Trenton in 2015.

Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner are set. There are some who talk about trading Gardner for an over-the-hill infielder like Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips. Why? The Yankees obviously want Chris Young around as a fourth outfielder.

Among Tyler Austin, Eury Perez, Ramon Flores and Slade Heathcott, it may play out like this. Off the top, Perez is not needed and ought to be DFA, Austin will be optioned to Scranton and keep his spot, while Flores is ready to be a backup outfielder in The Bronx. What to do with Heathcott, who is multi-talented but never stays healthy?  This corner feels the Yankees give him the 2015 season at Scranton, depending on what other moves are made.  As with Williams, a lot of money is invested here.

One thing is certain. With the Yankees; 40-man, the fun is just starting.

Written By

Have covered the Yankees and their system for over 20 years. I enjoy writing about future Yankees and where a prospect stands in the system. One rule: I only analyze and comment on prospects I have seen play and have talked to.

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