Ichiro has been signed two year deal worth a total of roughly $13 million dollars, meaning the two aforementioned players will comprise close to $20 million dollars in payroll in 2013.
Since the payroll crunch doesn’t come until 2014, this is not an issue.
However, figuring out who will be removed from the 40 man roster when additions like these are made is always a challenge.
Right now, the Yankees’ 40 man roster is comprised of 24 pitchers and 16 starters, a logical breakdown given the need to cycle relievers, particularly early in the year due to inevitable ineffectiveness, over-usage and poor off season conditioning.
Though Alex Rodriguez will immediately be moved to the 60 day disabled list, New York will still have to remove two players, not one, since that cannot happen until after Spring Training starts since the injury occurred after the regular season ended.
Removing a player from the roster means designating them for assignment or outright cutting them, which means either way every other team in baseball gets access towards acquiring them.
Obviously nobody with a designated starting role will be selected for this process, nor will any major prospects, and in the Yankees’ case, any offensive Major League ready minor league talent.
Currently, only three catchers comprise the 40 man roster and all three could be the Opening Day starter on the Yankees barring additional off-season moves.
With Derek Jeter and Rodriguez facing uncertainty coming off of injuries and with Youkilis an injury threat himself, this means New York will need plenty of depth on the active roster around the diamond.
Almonte played a full season in AA Trenton last season and hit .277 with 21 HR, 70 RBI and 15 SB.
Chris Dickerson is the most experienced outfielder, having spent multiple seasons as a Yankees’ reserve. Dickerson is 30 years old and no longer considered a prospect, which makes him expendable.
It’s easy to think Brian Cashman will be uncomfortable with three outfielders batting lefty when the season starts, so New York may target someone like Cody Ross to platoon with Ichiro and Gardner.
Either way, it’s highly likely Dickerson may be one of the players designated since it’s not a guarantee (though probable) another team claims him.
Since he is also a lefty, Dickerson provides nothing beyond the ability to play all three outfield positions for Cashman to consider him “valuable”.
For starters, Manny Banuelos will miss most of the season recovering from injury and it’s unclear what Michael Pineda‘s status will be by the spring. Pineda began a throwing program last month, around the same time Mariano Rivera began throwing activities.
Likely, it comes down to lefty relievers or Nik Turley.
Turley is a 6’6″ lefty with three pitches and great command. With a late promotion to AA Trenton in 2012, he’s right where he should be as someone who just turned 23 years old.
As the only other legitimate lefty prospect in the system for starters behind Banuelos, it’s unlikely the Yankees would part ways with Turley.
It’s unlikely New York keeps five of these arms on its 40 man roster.
Logan is a lock and Cabral was held all of 2012 despite injury because of his potential.
He also had won Rapada’s second lefty role last year until he injured himself in Spring Training.
Rondon will be turning 25 when the season begins and will likely start the year in AAA Scranton, while Rapada is a soon to be 32 year old lefty specialist who Joe Girardi used entirely too often against righties last season.
Spence was claimed off of waivers last month and did a terrific job for the Padres as a deceptive reliever with success the first time through a lineup.
My guess is Dickerson and Rapada are both designated since they are not considered prospects and do not have a higher ceiling than we saw in 2012.
Neither player is so good that a new prospect or callup from the minors is unable to duplicate what they provided last year.
Cabral and Spence likely have the inside track to be the second lefty out of the bullpen and it would be very un-Cashman like to have four lefty outfielders on the starting roster.
Something will give in that situation and Dickerson doesn’t seem to fit regardless of what that “something” ends up being.
The Yankees will get older with Youkilis and Ichiro, but they won’t be sacrificing much to add them to the roster.