NEW YORK -- We’ve made it to February! There are two weeks left before the first Spring Training workout for pitchers and catchers takes place under the Florida sunshine, and precisely eight weeks until the Yankees stand on the third-base line at the Astros' Minute Maid Park, primed to begin the 2024 regular season.
Those dates are close enough that we can begin to forecast how the Opening Day roster will look, though as general manager
Brian Cashman frequently remarks, there is still plenty of time before it will be “pencils down” to finalize the roster ahead of the July 31 Trade Deadline.
“We like what we have; we’re excited about what we have,” Cashman said. “But no one is handing us a trophy. We’ve got to go earn it. The only way to best earn that is to have the most talent and the most insurance policies you can possibly have, within reason. That’s how we’re going to go about it.”
Let’s take a swing at building the Bombers’ best 26-man squad, using players currently in the organization and some assistance from the 2024 Steamer projections.
Starting pitchers (5): Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodón, Marcus Stroman, Nestor Cortes, Clarke Schmidt
The January addition of the sinkerballer Stroman appears to have completed the starting five as the club is no longer engaged with free agent
Blake Snell. Cole will stand tall as the defending American League Cy Young Award winner, with Steamer’s projections forecasting a 3.73 ERA over 200 innings for the reliable ace. The Yanks are pinning their hopes upon bounce-back seasons from Rodón and Cortes. The metrics favor Rodón’s chances, suggesting a 3.79 ERA over 163 1/3 innings.
Bullpen (8): Clay Holmes (CL), Scott Effross, Victor González, Ian Hamilton, Tommy Kahnle, Jonathan Loáisiga, Ron Marinaccio, Luke Weaver
This is an area where the Yankees still hope to make upgrades before Opening Day, though free-agent options Josh Hader, Hector Neris and
Wandy Peralta have signed elsewhere in recent weeks. Loáisiga and Kahnle stand to be the primary setup men for Holmes, who is projected to log 32 saves with a 3.25 ERA. The December trade for the lefty González could be a sneaky under-the-radar pickup, while Effross’ return from surgery would bolster the staff.
Catchers (2): Jose Trevino, Austin Wells
With Kyle Higashioka dealt to the Padres as part of the
Juan Soto trade, Wells has a clear path to make the Opening Day roster after popping four homers with 13 RBIs across 19 games at the end of the season. Much of the playing time still should belong to Trevino; Boone said that Trevino “is doing great” with his recovery after undergoing wrist surgery in July.
Infielders (5): DJ LeMahieu, Oswald Peraza, Anthony Rizzo, Gleyber Torres, Anthony Volpe
Though there have been scattered reports about interest in
Matt Chapman, Cashman has said he considers the infield set, envisioning LeMahieu at third base, Volpe at shortstop, Torres at second base and Rizzo at first base. Cashman said that Rizzo “feels great” and “is 100 percent cleared” from the concussion issue that ruined his 2023 season.
Outfielders (5): Oswaldo Cabrera, Trent Grisham, Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo
Soto’s move to the Bronx could deliver a monster season, as Steamer sees the lefty slugger posting a robust .984 OPS and 6.7 fWAR. Judge is preparing for duty as the starting center fielder, an assignment he favors; the metrics eye Judge to belt 46 homers with a .949 OPS and 6.2 fWAR. Verdugo will patrol Yankee Stadium’s larger expanse in left field. Grisham figures to see time as a defensive replacement but will also get starting nods when Judge serves as a designated hitter. Cabrera could fill a super-utility role, while
Jasson Dominguez is expected to return sometime in the summer.
Designated hitter (1): Giancarlo Stanton
Stanton is looking to rebound after a frustrating 2023 in which he batted a career-low .191. As he prioritizes conditioning and diet, Stanton appears noticeably trimmer; Cashman remarked that he had seen one such snapshot and noted, “That picture obviously showed a lot.” Steamer’s formulas see improvement ahead for Stanton, who is marked for 26 homers and 67 RBIs in 105 games.
Which Yankees great is the all-time leader in postseason victories?
A. Roger Clemens
B. Whitey Ford
C. Andy Pettitte
D. Mariano Rivera
• Judge’s ALL RISE Foundation held its second annual All-Star Evening at Cipriani Wall Street on Jan. 25. More than 450 guests attended the gala, which raised nearly $800,000 to support Judge’s foundation’s mission to inspire youth to become responsible citizens.
Greg Allen is back with the Yankees. The speedy outfielder signed a Minor League contract this past week that will include an invite to big league camp and would pay him $1.1 million if he is promoted to the Majors. The club has not formally announced the deal.
• Major League Baseball and its clubs have come together to replace a Jackie Robinson statue stolen from a Wichita, Kan., park last week.
The Super Bowl usually serves as the handoff to baseball season, but it’ll feel a lot like spring from Feb. 2-4 at American Dream in East Rutherford, N.J., where more than 50 Yankees from the past and present will be appearing to snap photos and sign autographs.
The star-studded lineup includes Hall of Famers Wade Boggs, Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Mariano Rivera, as well as former Yankees captains Ron Guidry, Don Mattingly,
Graig Nettles, plus many other fan favorites from across the eras. You can also come say hi to me and pick up a copy of my book, “62: Aaron Judge, the New York Yankees and the Pursuit of Greatness.” Hope to see you there!
Paul O’Neill will meet and greet fans on Feb. 2 at Wolf & Warrior Brewing Co. in White Plains, N.Y. Paul is re-launching his “Warrior 21” IPA beer and will appear from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Pettitte’s 19 victories are the most all-time, ahead of Justin Verlander’s 17 and John Smoltz’s 15. Across 14 postseasons (32 series) with the Yankees and Astros, Pettitte logged a 19-11 record and 3.81 ERA in 44 starts.
FORWARDED FROM A FRIEND? SUBSCRIBE NOW
To subscribe to Yankees Beat, visit this page and mark "Yankees Beat" from our newsletter list. Make sure you're following the Yankees or that they're checked as your favorite team.