USA TODAY Sports
Examining where players without guaranteed spots on the Yankees' Opening Day roster stand in their quest to make the team after two weeks of Spring Training. Hat tip to our SBN sister site, Talking Chop, for the inspiration.
After two weeks of Spring Training, players being cut or departing for participation in the World Baseball Classic have made this list quite a bit shorter than its Week One counterpart. The players without a clear spot on the Opening Day roster found a little more wiggle room after the news that Mark Teixeira's wrist injury would keep him out for over a month, potentially giving them another path toward being on the Yankees when the team heads north to the Bronx.
Some players' chances have gone up, obviously, and one decreased due to injury. The others largely remained about the same. Last week's meter color is included in the chart for comparison. The legend for the colors, which is the same as last week, is as follows:
Red: Based on performance or situation, this player has a slim to no chance of making the team.
Yellow: Player theoretically could make the team with an overwhelming performance or unexpected development.
Chartreuse: Player has a decent chance of making the team if they can beat out their immediate competition.
Green: Player is in a very favorable situation for making the team. Likely seen as the favorite for an open job.
And then there were fifteen. Kind of. Gil Velazquez and Walter Ibarra missed camp time this week while they played for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. With Mexico's elimination, they should be re-joining the team shortly. Adonis Garcia was always a longshot for taking the open spot in left field, but breaking his hamate bone last Sunday in batting practice will completely eliminate those chances after he needed surgery and will miss the beginning of the season.
Players with third base or first base experience will be receiving a longer look now that Mark Teixeira will miss the beginning of the season. That's good news for Dan Johnson, Juan Rivera, Corban Joseph, and Ronnier Mustelier. All four players have the versatility to play multiple positions, even if their defense at those other positions may not be super strong. The outfield competition still seems to be wide open between Melky Mesa, Zoilo Almonte, Matt Diaz, Mustelier, and Rivera, but the Yankees' signing of Ben Francisco yesterday will add another name to the mix for one starting position and potentially a fourth outfielder. The team has always shown preference for veterans over rookies, so if Francisco is anything but a disaster, Mesa, Almonte, and co. may see their chances at the big leagues to start the season diminished considerably.
Slade Heathcott has managed to stay in camp longer than a lot of his fellow outfield prospects like Tyler Austin or Ramon Flores. Giving him the longest look may mean something for how the team views the timetable for his arrival in the Bronx, or maybe it's meaningless. No one should be surprised if he's in the next round of cuts, and his chances of making the team are still insanely slim. He's had some really strong at bats and it's always exciting to see the top prospects at big league camp, so at least there's that.
The numbers will continue to dwindle as Spring Training rolls on and the team gets more serious about who they'd actually feel comfortable making the Opening Day roster. With only a few weeks less to impress, fewer people will mean more playing time to really sort out the best people for the job over a bigger sample size. The 40-man roster guys have a bit of a leg up on their competition by not requiring the team to DFA someone to put them on the team. Hopefully the guys with actual upside can pull ahead of the veteran competition. If things are going to be ugly for a while, we should at least get some exciting prospect action to soften the blow.
Be sure to check out Jason's Making the Team Meter post on the Yankee pitchers coming up at 11 a.m.