What We’ve Learned

We’ve learned the Yankees have added seven players to their 40-man roster while subtracting one.  It’s kind of an odd approach.

By adding seven guys (Ivan Nova, Reggie Corona, Austin Jackson, Hector Noesi, Kevin Russo, Eduardo Nunez and Romulo Sanchez) they protect those players from the Rule 5 daft.  But, they also leave only one spot open on the 40-man, which they created by cutting Shelley Duncan (He isn’t really cut, but he is not going to accept a minor league assignment, but more on that later)  Leaving only one open spot on the 40-man means you have to start putting players on waivers if you sign more than one free agent.  So, if the Yankees bring back Andy Pettitte and Johnny Damon, someone on the 40-man has to go through waivers. 

The reason I find this odd is because of the way the Rule 5 draft works.  Teams can select a player who isn’t on the 40-man roster, but they then have to keep that player in the majors all year or offer him back to the original team.  This actually happened last winter when Nova was selected by the Padres, but returned to the Yankees at the end of spring training because he wasn’t ready for the bigs.  So yes, leaving a player unprotected for the Rule 5 is a risk, but to remove him from the 40-man means you have to pass him through waivers only.  Isn’t that a bigger risk?  So, I really don’t get why the Yankees filled their roster almost to the brink, but I imagine we will read something about it in the next few days.

Of the guys they added, I think Russo has the best chance of making the team out of camp.  He can play all over the infield and he put up a .326/.397/.431 line in AAA last year.  The Yankees could very well bring him up as the backup infielder next year. 

Jackson has been talked about everywhere, but looking at his AAA #’s last year it doesn’t look like he will hit for enough power- yet.  I see no reason to rush him and barring a monster spring, I hope the Yankees let him get comfortable in AAA for a few months in next season

Nunez is interesting because he has always been a good shortstop, but he had never hit prior to 2009.  But in 2009, he took a huge leap forward offensively hitting .322/.349/.433.  If he can keep that up the Yankees suddenly have their shortstop of the future.  

Reggie Corona is another middle infielder and he has not hit at all. I would expect him to be the first guy waived if the Yankees need to free up a 40-man spot.

Ivan Nova split time between AA and AAA starting at both.  He walks almost 4 per 9 and he doesn’t strike enough guys out to be a legitimate prospect for 2010.  He is only 21, so there is always the chance he can grow.

Hector Noesi is interesting because he strikes out a lot of guys with very good control.  He is only 21 and he hasn’t advanced past A ball, so he is unlikely to show up in the Bronx until 2011 at the earliest.

Romulo Sanchez is a guy the Yankees got from Pittsburgh for Eric Haker.  He started and relieved in Scranton posting a 4.04 ERA in 64 innings.  Since he is 25, it’s hard to see him as more than a system filler a this point.

I mentioned that the Yankees sent Shelley Duncan to the minors, an assignment he will almost certainly refuse.   I don’t think Duncan would have ever become a star, but I don’t understand why the Yankees chose to protect Sanchez and Corona while letting him go.  I am sure some organization will pick up Duncan and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him blast 15 home runs next season in the bigs.  He would be a nice bat in a platoon.