New York Yankees: Predicting the Yankees 2021 opening day roster

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

New York Yankees fans always look forward to the upcoming season. Today I do a fool’s chore in predicting what the opening day roster will look like. I say it’s a fool’s chore because so many things can happen from now till opening day. Nevertheless, it is fun to look forward to what a season might look like for our favorite team. With the coronavirus still likely to impact the new season,, we presently do not know if fans will be in the stands if there will be a universal DH, or even how many games will be played.

Many of those unknowns have caused many teams, including the New York Yankees, from making substantial investments in their teams. The New York Yankees, who lost more money than any team in baseball last season will be penny pinching. Many free agents that would normally have been signed, remain unsigned until there is more clarity as we advance. Here are my predictions for the Yankee’s opening day roster.

Starting pitching:



Yankee ace Gerrit Cole will lead off the rotation without question. Behind Cole, it lacks clarity after the loss of Masahiro Tanaka,  James Paxton, and J.A. Happ. Backing up Cole at least at the beginning of the season will likely be Domingo German whose return has been blessed by the front office, after he will be Jordan Montgomery and Deivi Garcia. The fifth spot in the rotation will be a competition between Clarke Schmidt and Jonathan Loaisiga. If they don’t work out, the Yankees have plenty of other options. The rotation will likely change based on performance and the return of Luis Severino sometime before the All-Star break.

The Yankee bullpen:

The New York Yankees bullpen will be challenged this year with the loss of Tommy Kahnle, who will be out of action the entire season rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery. Aaron Boone has often gone after Chad Green in many situations. I am predicting he will be used more than ever before in several roles. First out of the box will be Luis Cessa, Miguel Yaujer and recently re-acquired Adam Warren and Adam Ottavino.  Holding down the late innings will be Zack Britton and closer Aroldis Chapman. Don’t be surprised when you see both Britton and Chapman sharing closing responsibilities. If the season turns out to be 162 games, look for the Yankees to use many more arms to avoid stress on the main bullpen arms. Think Nick Nelson, Brook Kriske and newly acquired Nestor Cortes Jr.

Backstop:

The Yankees have announced that Gary Sanchez will again be the Yankees starting catcher. However, with the excellent performance of backup catcher Kyle Higashioka look for him to be competing for starts. He will likely continue the role of catching ace Gerrit Cole.  Depending on Sanchez’s hitting ability or lack thereof, we will see much more of “Higgy” this season. Should either Sanchez or Higashioka be injured most likely, Anthony Seigler will be called up from the minors. The Yankees lost their third catcher, Erik Kratz, to retirement.

First base:

Forget the rumors. Luke Voit isn’t going anywhere; he will be the starting day first baseman. Voit hit the most home runs in baseball last year, and that is production the Yankees will keep in the lineup. Also, don’t be surprised to see him move up in the lineup over Giancarlo Stanton. Even with his lousy stats, look for Mike Ford to backup Voit at first.

Second base:

Have no fear; DJ LeMahieu will again man second base for the Yankees. Even though the negotiations have stalled to keep DJ in pinstripes, the Yankees will get the deal done, even if they have to pay more for a longer time than they want. It’s hard to believe that the general manager Brian Cashman will let DJ go with another team.

Shortstop:

Gleyber Torres will remain at shortstop for the Yankees in 2021, despite general manager Brian Cashman indicating that he was out of shape for the 2020 season. The displacement of the regular season last year until the mid summer hurt Torres’ ability to stay in shape, throwing off his game plan and ultimately affecting his statistical outputs. The Yankees still feel confident he can play at a high-level and is still getting used to the shortstop position, so we don’t expect any changes there.

Third Base:

It’s a forgone conclusion that Gold Glove nominee for two years in a row, Gio Urshela will again be manning the hot corner at Yankee Stadium. The only question will be who will back him up. The answer to that is that it will most likely be DJ LeMahieu not Miguel Andujar. Andujar is a 50/50 to be a Yankee next year. He may very well be part of a trade for some Yankee need.



Right Field:

Right field will be manned by Aaron Judge. Judge will have his best season for the Yankees since 2017. Other than a short stint on the IL he will be on the field more than in that past three years. He will also lead the 2021 team in home runs. Backing up Judge will be the ever improving Clint Frazier that really showed off his stuff when replacing Judge.

Centerfield:

Believe it or not Aaron Hicks will have an injury free season and will hold down centerfield for the Yankees. Backup for Hicks will not be Brett Gardner as the team will finally part ways with the veteran. But the team and Yankee fans will celebrate Brett Gardner day at some point in the season. The likely back up for Hicks will be Trey Amburgey the minor league senation and Mike Tauchman. It wouldn’t be over surprising if the Yankee fans get their first glimce of Jasson Dominguez late in the season..

Left Field:

Left field now belongs to Clint Frazier after a dramatically improved season last year. Half way through the season last year Boone gave Frazier a permanent spot in the lineup and he did nothing but perform to all to see. Backing up Frazier will be Mike Tauchman.

DH:

Giancarlo Stanton has cemented his place as the team’s everyday DH. With his propensity for get injured it is not likely that the Yankees will have him spend any amount of time on the field. The Yankees have spent too much money on Stanton not to have him in the lineup. Stanton if healthy could have his best season with the Yankees since 2018. Last year a healthy Stanton dazzled the fans late in the season and especially in the postseason when he hit six home runs in just seven games.

Bench:

With MLB not releasing the number of players allowed in the opening day roster it’s difficult to predict how many bench players will be allowed.  The Likely candidates are Tyler Wade with his speed and ability to play nearly anywhere.  Mike Ford and Mike Tauchman. You may also see at times Jordy Mercer and Thairo Estrada.

Disclaimer:

I have to add a disclaimer because if the Yankees hire a mid-lever starting pitcher or if they retain Brett Gardner it will throw some of these predictions off. If they fail to re-sign DJ LeMahieu it will throw them even further off, as they will likely bring in a new shortstop possibly a Didi Gregorius, moving Gleyber Torres to second base. Just like I did this year, I will again visit this page and point out where I went wrong and why.