Credit: J Conrad Williams, Jr, Newsday
Two games into the Spring schedule and it is clear that Gleyber Torres is the most exciting player on the field. He is providing a glimpse into the future before he packs his bags and heads to Trenton, New Jersey and AA ball.
Saturday’s game featured a 2-for-2 day by Torres, with two doubles. He also scored from second base on a wild pitch with heads-up base-running.
One day, the Yankees will have to make a decision regarding their infield. It’s probably still a couple of years away, but the day will come when Starlin Castro, most likely, is the one moved (either to third base or another team) to make way for Torres at second base. Torres is just trying to make it happen sooner rather than later.
I’ve been a Yankees fan for a long time but this is the first time I can recall that a spot on the 40-man roster carries such a premium. Packaging multiple prospects to send to the Chicago White Sox for, say, pitcher Jose Quintana, would arguably relieve some of the pressure.
The Yankees had to make hard decisions in the off-season when they cut loose both Jacob Lindgren and Nathan Eovaldi. Granted, both players are recovering from Tommy John surgery, but the Yankees had no room to protect either on their 40-man roster. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves, with arguably the best farm system in baseball, quickly signed the lefty Lindgren who was thought to be on the fast track to the major leagues when he was drafted by the Yankees a few years ago. The Yankees had some discussions with Eovaldi after they cut him loose but it is not known how serious they were. Eovaldi opted to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays, and was placed on their 40-man roster. The Rays currently have one of the lower ranked farm systems so it was probably an easy decision for them to devote a 40-man spot to a guy that will not return to the field until 2018 at the earliest.
The Braves are another story. They have a plethora of top talent, yet were still able to make room for Lindgren, who, like Eovaldi, is at least a year away from playing again.
If Jon Niese makes the Yankees opening day roster, they’ll have to make a move with the 40-man roster. The obvious DFA candidate is LHP Joe Mantiply, but there’s still time for any roster decisions have to be made.
Having the best or second-base farm system in baseball is great, but the truth is that not all the prospects will succeed. The Yankees need to roll the dice and make some trades to upgrade the weaker areas of the team. It may not be this spring but either at the trade deadline or next off-season, it will be time for the Yankees to upgrade the roster to compete with the top teams in the American League. The key is obviously the continued development of Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Aaron Judge at the major league level but it will soon be time to supplement those great present and future Yankees stars with commensurate talent.
Making trades will free up room on the 40-man roster for other young talent in the system moving up through the ranks when it is their time for protection. The Yankees’ huge haul from the international free agent market in 2014 will start to progress into the upper levels of the farm system within the next few years. The pig in the pytheon is coming. Shortstop Wilkerman Garcia is leading the way for the 2014 signees. Since he signed before he was 18, he won’t have to be added to the 40-man until after five minor league seasons. But for players signing their first professional contract at age 19 or greater, they’ll have to be protected after four minor league seasons. If not protected, the players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft held each December.
The Yankees lost a few players in the Rule 5 Draft this past December. Odds are most of the players picked will be offered back to the Yankees, but it’s also possible that one or two of the players are gone forever. The San Diego Padres, for example, could decide to carry three catchers this year, allowing catcher Luis Torrens to remain on the big league roster.
With such great talent in the organization right now, the 40-man roster and the Rule 5 Draft will be an incredible challenge every year. I guess it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.
So, go ahead and make the trade for Jose Quintana.
I know, that was a long route to get to the request for Quintana, and there’s obviously so much more that goes into those type of decisions. But I really do not want to see Chad Green as the team’s #5 starter. So, pardon me…