Predicting Yankees 30-Man Roster in Latest MLB Proposal
Major League Baseball could be coming back.
Rumors have been swirling since former big leaguer Trevor Plouffe posted a tweet earlier this week saying that Opening Day of the 2020 MLB season will be July 1 with teams playing at their home ballparks.
A second Spring Training would commence on June 10, exactly three weeks prior. This report was taken to another level on Wednesday as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic revealed MLB had this proposal in place and is set to present their plan to the MLB Players' Association within a week's time.
Rosenthal's report explained that the proposal has yet to be finalized due to the significant amount of obstacles still to overcome with the coronavirus pandemic. While these dates are still subject to change, and still air on the optimistic side, more clarity regarding the details of this return-to-play proposal have surfaced.
For an 80 to 100 game season, executives across baseball have suggested that rosters will be expanded significantly, allowing 30 players to be active and as many as 50 would be available for each team, reports ESPN's Jeff Passan.
Should all these reports come to fruition, and the season officially begin in July under this format, what would the Yankees' 30-man roster look like?
Earlier this offseason, SI's Inside The Pinstripes examined the perks and potential dividends of MLB's new regulation in 2020, expanding to 26-man rosters. Now, a club that was plagued by injuries a year ago – and is poised to still have key contributors still on the injured list if and when this season begins – could have four extra active players for Game 1 of this truncated campaign.
Here's what New York's 30-man roster could be come July 1 – in no particular order – split equally between position players and pitchers (including a breakdown on some of the notable players and tougher decisions in the final few spots).
1. DJ LeMahieu
2. Gleyber Torres
3. Gary Sánchez
4. Giancarlo Stanton
Yankees' skipper Aaron Boone mentioned in late-March that Stanton would be "ready to go" once the regular season began. Now, he's more than two months removed from his Grade 1 right calf strain and won't need any more time off. Stanton won't necessarily be slotted back immediately as an everyday outfielder. Odds are with expanded rosters and his injury history, you'll rarely see him play in the field. It all depends on how he feels come Opening Day. Perhaps focusing on his at-bats – hitting in the designated hitter spot – can give New York a taste of what they traded for after his NL MVP performance in 2017.
5. Brett Gardner
6. Gio Urshela
7. Luke Voit
8. Miguel Andújar
9. Mike Tauchman
10. Aaron Hicks
Hicks has progressed well in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and may end up not missing any time at all this season. If we're basing his timetable off of Didi Gregorius' similar rehab process – after the former Yankees shortstop underwent the same surgery at approximately the same point of the fall – Hicks could be back in game shape in early-June. The switch-hitting outfielder began his throwing program almost two months ago and hinted at his return to a batting cage in an Instagram post last week. It's only a matter of time until he's all set to take the field.
11. Kyle Higashioka
12. Mike Ford
13. Clint Frazier
14. Tyler Wade
15. Thairo Estrada
If rosters were limited to 26, that means New York would've opened up the season with – in all likelihood – 13 position players. These final four players would be jockeying for that final spot. With Miguel Andújar expanding his defense, and a lack of left-handed bats in the starting lineup, an edge would've likely been given to Mike Ford had the season started on time. Then again, Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada's versatility as utilitymen is invaluable for positional depth as well. Clint Frazier may be the most dangerous hitter of the crew...
Nonetheless, slotting all of these fringe players in on one roster – prior to Aaron Judge's return – would give New York a chance to ease Hicks and Stanton back into the order and ensure players don't get hurt or overworked in this season's unprecedented format.
16. Gerrit Cole
17. James Paxton
Similar to Hicks, James Paxton is on pace to miss zero time despite surgery in the offseason. When the left-hander had surgery on his lower back in early-February, it was seen as an immediate blow to the pitching staff as Paxton wouldn't return until mid-May at the earliest. Now, the southpaw could be ready early enough for the club's second version of Spring Training. All of a sudden, New York has a surplus of starting pitchers after the following four names all proved their worth in Grapefruit League play.
18. Masahiro Tanaka
19. J.A. Happ
20. Jordan Montgomery
21. Jonathan Loaisiga
Jonathan Loaisiga was the front-runner to take over as the Bombers' fifth starter had the season started on time. With Paxton back, could we see him in a long reliever role? Odds are New York doesn't employ a six-man rotation, as fewer games in this proposed season mean every contest is more important. This coaching staff won't want to limit opportunities to use Gerrit Cole every fifth day. Loaisiga is a viable option to start games this year and the Yankees will surely find ways to use him – there's no way he's left off the 30-man roster.
22. Aroldis Chapman
23. Adam Ottavino
24. Zack Britton
25. Chad Green
26. Tommy Kahnle
27. Jonathan Holder
28. Luis Cessa
29. Ben Heller
30. Mike King
You'll notice, there's no Deivi Garcia or Clarke Schmidt on this list – the Yankees top two pitching prospects that stole the show at Spring Training. With six viable starting pitchers, and those two right-handers molded to start as well, it's tough to see New York bringing them up purely for relief appearances. Then again, that could be a conservative look at their near futures. The excitement surrounding those two arms at Spring Training would indicate the coaching staff would call them up this year. But how soon?
Like Loaisiga, the plan could be to keep them available and ready to fill in if necessary. There's no need to rush their progression to the big leagues for this shortened campaign if the other starters are producing. Ben Heller has been up and down since his debut in 2016 and Mike King made his debut at the end of last season – their experience, albeit a small sample size, can be utilized early as the entire pitching staff adjusts to baseball's return.
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