As the twelve Yankees on the Injured List trickle in, a Replacement Player will become expendable. No tears goodbye needed though as their stock has risen…
The Yankees still lead the major leagues with twelve players who would normally be on their 25-man roster on the Injured List (IL). Recently, Gary Sanchez and Clint Frazier have found their way back into the Yankees lineup, and others will trickle their way in over the next two to three weeks.
Each time that happens, Yankees GM, Brian Cashman, will be forced to make a roster move which, in most cases will mean a Replacement Player is headed back to the Yankees Triple-A farm team – the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders.
Together with the Yankees who have escaped the IL, position players like Brett Gardner, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, and Luke Voit, these replacements have formed the nucleus of an upbeat and winning team in the Yankees clubhouse.
On the pitching side, Domingo German has been nothing short of sensational as a replacement for Luis Severino, who we now learn will not be back until (at best) after the All-Star break in July. Tommy Kahnle has become Aaron Boone‘s most reliable reliever, replacing Dellin Betances, whose latest reports put him at least a month away for his return to the staff.
The Replacement Players – defined as not on the Yankees 25-man roster at the beginning of the 2019 season – in no particular order, include position players Mike Ford, Mike Tauchman, Gio Urshela, Tyler Wade, Thairo Estrada, Clint Frazier, and Cameron Maybin.
These are the players “on the bubble” as Aaron Hicks, Troy Tulowitzki, Giancarlo Stanton, Didi Gregorius, and Aaron Judge find their way back, slowly but surely, as regular players in the Yankees lineup.
Favorites to hold onto their spot on the 25-man roster are Urshela and Frazier but don’t put all your money (or heart) on that happening. Of the others, Mike Ford has already been sent to Triple-A Scranton, and Mike Tauchman figures to be next when Aaron Hicks returns as soon as this weekend.
Yankees Replacements – No Tears Goodbye
While we can only imagine the disappointment the replacements will feel moving from the first-class Yankees organization back down to the reality that awaits them in the minor leagues – again – there should be no tears shed by the players or Yankees fans who have established a bond with them as they’ve carried the team through what could have been a season-ending fall from grace in the standings.
The Replacements, each and every one of them, have increased their value and what that holds for the future cannot be monetized. They’ve been a contributing part in a major league clubhouse, hob-knobbed with veteran players, had dinner with them, picked their brain, and traveled far and wide with the team, including a first-class tour of the West Coast that included almost a full off-day in San Francisco. How cool is that? And moreover, what a learning experience!
Additionally, each has had their moments in a big league uniform on the field, giving notice not only to the Yankees but other teams as well suggesting – “Hey, I belong and I can do this”.
In turn, this opens up a myriad of opportunities for, as an example, Ford and Tauchman, both of whom have little or no chance of cracking the Yankees outfield (when healthy), to continue their careers with a team other than the Yankees when the trade season rolls around in July. Teams looking at them now and in the future can say with authority – these guys have been there – they fit in – and we can use them – right now.
The Ball Belongs To Brian Cashman
From where Brian Cashman sits, the choices are not easy. The value of the replacements as a whole is at their highest, meaning what was thought to be a drained Yankees farm system is anything but that now.
Thus, when Cashman calls and is willing to include these players in a deal, teams will listen. But – there’s a risk involved too – especially with someone like Aaron Hicks, who has one of those “trick backs” that can go out in a whisper – or someone like Brett Gardner, who has been forced to play every day, and easily might show signs of a slow-down and wilting in the sun come August.
Cashman also has some tough calls on the pitching side. Does he pursue an elite starter not named Madison Bumgarner or Dallas Keuchel – or does he rely on the talents of Jonathan Loaisiga, who has been excellent and will get the start on Wednesday against the Mariners, replacing James Paxton as a spot starter?
No Matter What, One Thing Better Be Certain…
I’ve said this once and I’ll keep saying it until I see it in print in November. When the New York Yankees divide up their shares from the Playoffs and (hopefully) the World series, I want to see equal shares given to The Replacements who enabled the team to have a chance to reach that level of play in 2019…
Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball
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