Yesterday, the Yankees made their first three 40-man roster cuts, losing Aaron Laffey to a waiver claim and letting Raul Valdes and Scott Proctor choose free agency before being outrighted.
Those surely won’t be the only casualties.
As it stands, the 40-man roster is at 37 players, but that’s not counting the seven guys on the 60-day disabled list. There’s no hiding someone on the 60-day in the offseason, which means the Yankees have to trim from 44. There are plenty of players who could go.
On the 60-day disabled list
Joba Chamberlain, Pedro Feliciano, Damaso Marte, Sergio Mitre, Reegie Corona, Colin Curtis, Justin Maxwell
Of these seven, Chamberlain is the only one who absolutely must stay. Marte is headed for free agency, so he’s an easy cut. Same for Mitre, who’s already been through his three arbitration years and doesn’t have an obvious role to play next season. Feliciano probably stays just in case he’s able to pitch next year. The Yankees didn’t dump Marte when he was hurt, hard to imagine they’ll dump Feliciano.
Corona and Curtis each missed all of 2010 with injuries, so they could probably slip through waivers (Corona easier than Curtis). If their claimed, the Yankees have similar players in the system. Maxwell is a more difficult call because he’s coming off a good Triple-A season that was cut short. The Yankees could remove him if they need the roster space, but there’s some risk of a claim.
Heading for free agency
Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones, Jorge Posada
The Yankees are likely to need a veteran corner infielder and a right-handed outfielder, so Chavez and Jones aren’t completely out of the question for 2012. There’s at least one report that Chavez is leaning toward retirement, but Jones will surely want to play again, and he did his job well this season. Everyone knows the Posada situation.
Colon and Garcia could provide rotation depth, but at what cost? Garcia’s season almost certainly earned him a guaranteed contract somewhere, and if the Yankees are aggressive in finding potential starters, Garcia might find a better opportunity elsewhere. Colon would be a kind of wild card. It’s hard to get the lightning back in the bottle.
Could go if necessary
Luis Ayala, Kevin Whelan, Greg Golson, Melky Mesa
Ayala pitched well enough to stay, but the Yankees might not want to guarantee him a roster spot, especially if they get into a roster crunch. I guess Cory Wade could also fit in this group, but he was good enough — and trusted in big enough situations — to suggest the Yankees like what they’ve seen. To me, bringing Wade back is an easy call, especially at the cost. It also seems like the Yankees plan to bring back Russell Martin, so I didn’t list him. Same for Nick Swisher and his 2012 club option.
Guys like Whelan, Golson and Mesa haven’t necessarily done anything to lose their spots, but Golson should be out of options next year, Whelan wasn’t given a September call-up and Mesa is coming off a bad year in Double-A. The Yankees relative lack of upper-level outfielders might keep Mesa’s spot safe — Whelan’s numbers and Golson’s familiarity might do the same — but these spots could be opened without creating significant problems for the Yankees.