TAMPA — With less than one week to go until Opening Day, it was only a matter of time until the Yankees started announcing roster cuts.
On Friday night, shortly before first pitch of an exhibition game against the Orioles, New York announced a move that has huge implications on this club's starting rotation to start the regular season.
Right-hander Deivi García, New York's third-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline, has been optioned Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
That means right-hander Domingo Germán will in all likelihood be named New York's fifth starter to start the year.
García, 21, made his big-league debut last season, showing flashes of his upside at this level. He posted a 4.98 ERA over six starts and 34.1 innings pitched in last year's coronavirus-shortened campaign.
In his MLB debut, donning pinstripes at Yankee Stadium, García twirled six innings of one-run ball with six strikeouts against the Mets.
As much as García demonstrated his ability to get outs at the big-league level in 2020, his role in 2021 was unclear at the beginning of this spring. With several veterans competing for playing time, and Germán returning from his domestic violence suspension, the 21-year-old wasn't guaranteed playing time.
Across five starts this spring, García was solid. He permitted seven runs to score over 14 frames (3.86 ERA) while striking out 14 batters.
If there was a competition directly with other hurlers for the vacant fifth spot in New York's rotation, however, it was Germán's magnificent spring that hurt García's chances of making the team the most.
Germán didn't allow a run in three spring starts, striking out 13 over nine frames. As much as Germán is still working through his life off the field, regaining the trust of his teammates in this clubhouse, he proved he's deserving of a rotation spot with his performance this spring.
Earlier this spring, Yankees manager Aaron Boone was asked directly about how much García needs to develop.
"Do I think he can be a really good big-league pitcher right now? Yeah, absolutely I do," Boone said. "But is there more development for a 21-year-old kid? Of course there is."
Boone added that the development for García could also come at the Major League level, so don't be surprised if García rejoins the rotation at some point early on this season. New York's pitching staff has as much depth as any other team in baseball. García may very well be the first hurler called upon in case of an injury or any unforeseen circumstances early on.
"He's certainly shown he's got good stuff and all the pitches you need to be successful, but he also has the kind of makeup and feel to pitch and Moxie on the mound that you love to see too," Boone said.
García struggled this spring with his command. Over his last three starts, García walked eight batters, unable to put hitters away late in counts. That composure on the mound that Boone has frequently spoken about was on full display, working out of jams and limiting damage, but it was clear there's still room for improvement for the prospect.
Barring any other surprises or injuries before Thursday's opener, the Yankees starting rotation is expected to look like this: Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon, Jordan Montgomery, Domingo Germán.
That said, don't be surprised if New York gets creative early on with how they start and finish games. With plenty of depth, and relievers capable of tossing several innings per outing (along with a slew of off days early in April), the Yankees could adjust on the fly and utilize several different starters outside of that five-man group.
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