There had been tons of anticipation surrounding the Yankees over the last 48 hours. The hot stove has been steaming in the early part of the offseason and knowing that the November 19 Rule 5 protection deadline was looming, a lot of focus has been centered around the organization. The Bombers had a full roster and a slew of talented prospects that they needed to add to shield them from exposure.
As the 6 P.M. deadline came and went on Friday evening, the Yankees announced that they had traded catcher Donny Sands and pitcher Nick Nelson to Philadelphia in exchange for two low-level prospects. Shortly thereafter, the team announced that they designated Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade and Rougned Odor for assignment and added Oswaldo Cabrera, Ron Marinaccio, Everson Pereira, Stephen Ridings and JP Sears to the 40-man roster.
Sands was just added to the 40-man roster a few weeks ago, which prevented him from hitting the minor league free-agent market and signing with a team of his choosing. Instead, the Yankees added him with the understanding that there would be value for an upper-level backstop in a package to potentially clear multiple 40-man roster spots. They did just that by including him with Nelson in a deal that netted them infielder T.J. Rumfield and left-hander Joel Valdez from the Phillies.
Cabrera was the Double-A Northeast League MVP. The 22-year old switch-hitting infielder led the league in hits (112), RBI (78), extra base hits (54), and total bases (215). Cabrera was also among the leaders in home runs (24, 3rd), slugging percentage (.492, 10th), doubles (29, T-3rd), and stolen bases (20, T-5th). Cabrera said throughout the season that he worked extensively during the cancelled 2020 minor league campaign tweaking his approach and refining his swing path to generate better and more consistent contact. After getting to work with hitting coach Joe Migliaccio this season, Cabrera brought the “hit strikes hard” approach to the box with him and it propelled him to the most success season of his career. Cabrera was action at second, third and shortstop and should be able to provide versatility at those positions much like Wade and Odor were able to do previously.
Marinaccio, a Toms River, NJ native (I think you have heard of another big leaguer from there), fanned 105 batters in 66.1 innings of work between Somerset and SWB. The 26-year old right-hander sits in the high-90’s with his heater and has touched 100 MPH on the gun. He also has arguably the best slider in the Yankees entire system to go along with a really good change-up. The University of Delaware product walked just 27 and held the opposition to a .153 batting average against.
Like Marinaccio, JP Sears was Rule 5 eligible for the second straight season, but this time, the southpaw’s 2021 campaign between Double and Triple-A made him far too valuable for the Bombers to risk losing. Acquired from Seattle with Juan Then for Nick Rumbelow in 2017, Sears split his season between Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Scranton and was used as a starter, reliever and in a piggy-back role behind a starter. The 25-year old Citadel product fanned 136 and walked just 29 in 104 innings of work. Sears has a good feel for the strike zone and could be used as a versatile guy much how they deployed Nick Nelson previously, only Sears can come at you from the left side.
You all know Stephen Ridings by now. If you were interested to read this far, you saw the big, imposing righty and his 100 MPH-plus heater in the bigs for a short time this summer. Before the season began, the Yankees Director of Player Development Kevin Reese met with media to discuss the impeding season. Reese pointed to Ridings as a name to look out for in Somerset and in 2021, the 26-year old reliever has stood out for more than just his 6’8″, 220 pound frame.
At this time a year ago, Ridings was unemployed and contemplating his baseball future altogether. “After Kansas City released me, I didn’t know what was going to happen this spring,” admitted Ridings earlier this season. “The Yankees came and saw me, and I had that big velo jump, I had a good feeling that as long as I could throw strikes, command the ball well and throw a couple off-speed pitches here and there, I thought that I was going to put myself in a good spot for success. Clearly, they liked what they saw to put me here, and I haven’t looked back since.”
In his first season in the Yankees system, Ridings fanned 44 and walked just 4 in 29 innings between Somerset and SWB. Depending on how the remainder of the Yankees offseason shakes out, Ridings could be a candidate for a bullpen spot in the Bronx when camp breaks from Tampa this spring.
At the ripe, young age of just 20, outfielder Everson Pereira now finds himself on the 40-man roster. Not quite how I remember spending my early-20’s, but life comes at you fast in pro-ball. Pereira has maxed out in High-A and has only spent a short amount of time there. Why did the Yankees add him? Well, the Venezuelan-product crushed 20 homers and drove in 59 runs with a slash line of .303/.398/1.084 in 49 games between the FCL and the two A-ball levels in 2021. Pereira will turn 21 next season and should get his first taste of the upper-levels, among other things. Should his bat continue to play-up the way that it has in limited action, Pereira has the potential to move very quickly.