Yankees: 2 players fighting for spot on the 26-man roster

willie calhoun, yankees
Feb 26, 2023; Dunedin, Florida, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Willie Calhoun (24) hits a RBI single in the third inning of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

During yesterday’s Yankees split-squad action, two guys put on a display like their days of old. Both Willie Calhoun and Deivi Garcia are two guys that could be considered on the outside looking in but are knocking on the door of the 26-man squad. For Willie, it’s been a few years since he was able to be an impact guy, and this could be just the fresh start he needed. As for Deivi, the once highly touted prospect sputtered a bit in recent seasons but looked renewed yesterday on the bump. 

[su_posts template=”templates/list-loop.php” posts_per_page=”3″ tax_term=”1622326″ offset=”1″ order=”desc”]

Willie Calhoun is gunning for the Yankees’ LF spot:

In the game against the Blue Jays yesterday, Willie Calhoun batted third and didn’t waste any time getting started. He clubbed a double into right field to get the afternoon started and then singled home Anthony Volpe in the third. In his third AB, he hit a scorched ground ball that started a double-play but still was hit hard enough to allow Volpe to come around and score. He did his job well and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat with the bat in his hand. 

Defensively, there wasn’t enough action hit his way to really get a good gauge on how he was doing. However, the few base hits and flyouts hit his direction, he seemed to handle them well and get into the infield quickly. While his defense has never been anything great, it’s imperative that he gets some time out there to prove he can handle it. I believe that Calhoun could easily nab a spot if he checks all the boxes this spring. 

Although he was brought over as an NRI, it wouldn’t shock me if he takes a spot on the 40-man and, inevitably, the 26-man. There are a few guys that could still be dealt before OD, and the organization testing Volpe at multiple positions in the infield could mean they’re looking to move on from IKF. Having Calhoun on the roster would be another lefty bat that can man the corner spots, and he could also fill in on days when Stanton is playing the field. His bat seems to be alive and well, and I’m excited to see how he progresses the rest of the month with more reps. 

Deivi Garcia showcased some brilliance of old:

As for Deivi Garcia, the 2022 season was one to forget entirely for him. He posted a 7.96 ERA and 6.35 FIP at AAA last year, though it was only across 37.1 innings. Some injuries, and huge inconsistencies with his stuff, have ultimately limited the time he sees on the bump. A few years back, many were expecting him to take that jump and potentially slot into the rotation. 

Yesterday, Deivi looked like his old self. His fastball seemed to have that same life it did back in 2020 before spring training was put on hiatus. He was sitting 95 MPH on it, and was able to touch 97 in his showing against the Braves at the Yanks’ home opener. In 2.0 innings, he struck out a pair, walked one, and didn’t surrender a hit. Not to mention, he also dazzled with a fantastic pickoff at 2B, as he and Gleyber Torres linked up. 

Having Garcia healthy, and pitching like he did a few years ago, could mean he’s tossing his hat in the running for the fifth starter spot. Though, the more likely option is that he starts in AAA and could be the new-wave JP Sears in that he’s the first guy called up when spot starts are needed. If he can turn back the clock this spring, he may insert himself into the fold.

I, for one, haven’t given up on him just yet, and even if he starts off in AAA, he could see himself on the squad at some point this season. Both he and Calhoun are two guys that impressed when they needed to most. If they can continue their solid starts to spring for the next few weeks, who knows quite what their role will be headed into the regular season. I’m excited baseball is back, and I know these two sleeper studs are as well.