The New York Yankees open Spring Training in a few weeks. Last year, they enjoyed a great season that ended with a heartbreaking loss to the eventual World Series Champion Houston Astros in Game 7 of the ALCS.
The 2018 Yankees are expected to contend for a World Series title. Anything short of winning the Fall Classic would be a disappointment. Here is my projected Opening Day roster for the 2018 Yankees:
Catchers (2): Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine. I’m a little bit surprised that the Yankees didn’t make a move to sign a veteran catcher because of Sanchez’s struggles behind the plate last season. Sanchez had 16 passed balls last season, which was tied for the most in all of baseball. Sanchez is a great hitter, and I thought the team would sign a catcher that could start for 60 or 70 games so that Sanchez could DH. The Yankees could employ this strategy because they don’t have an everyday DH. The Yankees could still employ this strategy with Romine as the other catcher. Romine filled in admirably when Sanchez was injured at the beginning of the 2017 season. He isn’t a great hitter, but he has proven to be a reliable player over the years.
Infielders (6): Greg Bird, Gleyber Torres, Didi Gregorius, Todd Frazier, Miguel Andujar, Ronald Torreyes. Two of the four starting infield sports easy to predict. Bird will be the starting first baseman and Gregorius will be the starting shortstop.
On the other hand, there will probably be Spring Training battles at second base and third base. Right now, Andujar is the favorite to win the third base job. He did well in limited action in the Bronx last sesaon, but has struggled with his glove in the Minor Leagues. His bat would fit perfectly into a ferocious Yankees lineup. However, I don’t think Andjuar will be the opening day starter. I think Yankees general manager Brian Cashman will sign a veteran third baseman to a one-year contract. Frazier, who the Yankees traded for in the middle of last season, is still a free agent. He may begin to be concerned that he does not have a contract and will be willing to sign a one-year deal for below-market value. Frazier, a fan favorite, will likely re-sign with the Yankees and if he does, I think he will be the starting third baseman on Opening Day.
I expect Torres to win the Opening Day second base job over Torreyes. Torres is one of the top prospects in all of baseball, and he would have played for the Yankees last season if he had not suffered a season-ending injury in Triple-A. Starlin Castro was traded away in the offseason, which paved the way for Torres to start right away in 2018.
Outfielders (5): Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees currently have a logjam in the outfield. Judge and Stanton will start in the corner outfield spots. I’m not sure which of those players will start in left field and who will start in right field, but the Yankees will figure it out. Hicks should be the starting center fielder. Gardner will play in the outfield on some days, which will allow Stanton or Judge to DH.
Like it or not, Ellsbury isn’t going anywhere. His contract is too large for another team to take on. Other teams aren’t even spending on younger free agents, so there is no way that they would sign up for an expensive three years with an aging Ellsbury. He also has a no-trade clause and has indicated that he does not want to be traded. Ellsbury wants to win back the starting job in center field, but he will probably come off the bench in pinch-running situations and will start only once or twice per week.
Where’s Clint Frazier? Unfortunately, there is no way the Yankees keep six outfielders on the active roster. The only one of them that can possibly be sent to the Minor Leagues is Frazier, so I think he will be a victim of the numbers game. His name has been brought up in trade rumors, but I don’t think he will be dealt before the season. Yankees fans don’t want Frazier to go back to Triple-A, but it seems that it is the most likely option at this point.
Starting Pitchers (5): Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Jordan Montgomery. There is not much to say about the Yankees starting rotation. Those five pitchers were all in the rotation last season. Sabathia and Tanaka could have decided to leave, but they both came back to try to win a World Series ring. Montgomery had a promising rookie season, Gray is expected to build on a bounce-back 2017 season, and Severino is the ace of the staff.
I do not expect the Yankees to acquire a starting pitcher prior to Opening Day. The Yankees have been rumored to be in the market for a starting pitcher for the entire offseason. They tried to trade for Gerrit Cole, but the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Cole to the Astros instead. Reports from the past few weeks have indicated that the Yankees have contacted Yu Darvish, but it doesn’t appear that the Yankees will sign him. Other teams have also made offers to Darvish. The Yankees have made it known that they want to be under the $197 million luxury tax threshold for the 2018 season. The Evil Empire wants to be set up to spend a lot on a loaded free agent class next year.
Relief Pitchers (7): Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Warren, Chasen Shreve. The Yankees should have a dominant bullpen in 2018. They return all of the major pieces from a 2017 bullpen that carried the team through large stretches of the season.
Chapman will be the closer. Robertson and Betances can pitch the seventh or eighth innings. Kahnle and Warren can pitch the sixth or seventh innings. I think Shreve will make the roster because the Yankees will want to have a second left-handed reliever.
The Yankees have an interesting decision to make regarding last season’s unsung hero, Chad Green. Green excelled in his role as the “stopper” in the bullpen last season. He entered games in many different situations and was able to restore order in several games that were slipping away. In the Wild Card Game, Green entered the game with two runners on base in the first inning after Severino was taken out. Green struck out two Minnesota Twins hitters and kept the deficit at 3-0. The Yankees answered with three runs in the bottom of the first inning and went on to win the game 8-4.
The Yankees have discussed the possibility of making Green a starting pitcher. Yankees fans should hope that Green stays in the bullpen because he plays an important role. I think he is the team’s second-most important reliever behind Chapman. The Yankees should have learned from how they handled Joba Chamberlain. Hopefully they keep Green in the bullpen and do not change his role multiple times like they did with Chamberlain.
If you would like to receive an email each time a new New York Yankees article is published, fill out our email notification form.