Monday marks the start of September, which means Major League teams are allowed to carry up to 40 players on their active roster for the remainder of the season. Very few September call ups are game-changers, but having a few extra players around gives teams some added roster flexibility — something that’s often at a premium now that bullpens run seven, eight, or even nine men deep. Most September call ups don’t happen on the first of the month, as many players stay with their minor league squads through the end of their seasons. This shouldn’t be a factor for the Yankees though, as none of their high-level affiliates have qualified for this year’s minor league playoffs. Both the Trenton Thunder and the Scranton Railriders finish up their seasons on Monday (September 1st), so most — if not all — of the team’s call ups will probably happen right away. So without further adieu, here’s a look at some guys the Yankees might wind up filling out the Yankees roster this September.
The Yankees are pretty well situated behind the plate with the tandem Brian McCann and Francisco Cervelli, but having a thrid catcher can certainly come in handy. This enables Joe Girardi to start one of his catchers at DH without having to worry about playing someone out of position should his starting catcher need to leave the game. It also allows him to pinch run for his catcher or to use his backup as a pinch hitter, while still keeping a backup on the bench.
Both John Ryan Murphy and Austin Romine have seen time with the big club this year, and Murphy will almost certainly serve as the team’s third string catcher in September. Romine might also be recalled for added depth, but could also wind up getting cut from the 40-man. He’s hit a putrid .125/.167/.167 in the month of August. Prospect Gary Sanchez is also on the 40-man roster, but the odds of him getting a call up are slim-to-none.
The acquisitions of Chase Headley, Martin Prado, and Stephen Drew did a lot to shore up the Yankees’ infield. Throw in Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Brendan Ryan, and Zelous Wheeler, and the Yankees seem to have enough bodies to cover the four infield spots. Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela have hit well enough to deserve call ups, but neither is likely to get one. The added infield depth would be nice, but isn’t a necessity, so it would probably take an injury or two for Refsnyder or Pirela to get a look.
Between Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Ichiro Suzuki, and sometimes Martin Prado, the Yankees don’t need a ton of help in the outfield, either. Even so, they’ll certainly add an outfielder or two for the season’s final month. Zoilo Almonte has ridden the shuttle to and from Scranton all season long and could rejoin the team to provide some outfield depth. Zoilo’s a switch hitter, but has hit much better against lefties the last couple of years. However, the Yankees might also wind up cutting Zoilo in favor of right-handed outfielder Chris Young, who they signed to a minor league deal last week. Young had a rough season with the Mets, but was a good player as recently as 2012. Both Almonte and Young could come in handy as a spot starters or pinch hitter against southpaws, but carrying both would be a little redundant. The final decision might come down to how well they play this weekend in Triple-A Scranton.
Twenty-two-year-old prospect Ramon Flores is a candidate for a call up given his spot on the 40-man. He missed a couple of months with an ankle injury, but has otherwise hit pretty well in Scranton. Slade Heathcott, another prospect, is also on the 40-man, but is out for the season following knee surgery. Taylor Dugas and Adonis Garcia both had very good seasons in the minors, but wouldn’t play enough to justify a September roster spot.
The Yankees’ bullpen always seems to be overworked, so a few fresh arms will definitely be a welcome addition. The obvious call ups are Chase Whitley, Bryan Mitchell, and Preston Claiborne. These guys have all spent time with the big club at one time or another this year and are still on the 40-man. No one in this trio figures to pitch all that much, but should help soak up some some innings in blow outs or extra-inning affairs. David Phelps will also rejoin the team so long as the remainder of his rehab goes according to plan, but a return from Masahiro Tanaka is unlikely following his latest setback.
Even following the addition Josh Outman, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Yankees add another lefty to their September bullpen. This could result in an opportunity for Manny Banuelos, who’s on the 40-man, or someone like Jacob Lindgren or Tyler Webb, both of whom have pitched very well in the minors this season.
Matt Daley is still on the 40-man roster, but would probably be the first to go if the Yankees choose to clear space for Lindgren, Webb, or Chris Young. Jose Ramirez is also on the 40-man, but has been on the DL for the past two months. He might get an inning or two if he gets healthy, but I wouldn’t count on it. The perpetually-injured Jose Campos is taking up a spot as well, but it doesn’t seem like the Yankees want to cut bait with him just yet. Meanwhile, flame-thrower Nick Rumbelow and switch-pitcher Pat Venditte have pitched well enough to deserve call ups, but there doesn’t seem to be a spot for either of them at this point.
Statistics Courtesy of Fangraphs.