Yankees designate infielder for assignment to clear space on 40-man roster

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When the Yankees claimed left-handed pitcher Matt Gage off of waivers for their bullpen, they needed to clear space on their 40-man roster. The easiest way to do so is to designate a player on the roster for assignment, and infielder Diego Castillo will have to return to waivers after they claimed him from the New York Mets. It’s been a roster carousel for the Yankees, who make another transaction on their 40-man roster, and Matt Gage will take Diego Castillo’s spot (for now), as the 26-year-old infielder finds himself on waivers once more.

The Yankees Place Infielder on Waivers to Make Room on Roster

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates
Oct 3, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Diego Castillo (64) hits a single against the St. Louis Cardinals during the fifth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Diego Castillo spent the majority of his season in Triple-A with the Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate, slashing .313/.431/.410 with a 117 wRC+ across 124 games. The versatile infielder put up a high walk rate (17.4%) while also running high contact rates as well, but his Minor League success hasn’t translated to the Major Leagues. Across 97 games with the Pirates and Diamondbacks, he’s posted a 71 wRC+ with a 26.4% strikeout rate, struggling to find consistency.

His defensive versatility is valuable, playing all four spots in the infield and even having experience at right field, but the lack of game power could hold him back. Furthermore, he’s entering his age-26 season and would have an undefined role on the roster, as he’s posted a -0.2 fWAR in his MLB career despite the versatility across the field. What the Yankees may hope for is that he passes through waivers similarly to Oscar Gonzalez, which would keep him in their organization.

There’s certainly value in carrying a player with experience at various positions in the infield and outfield, and perhaps extended looks with the organization that first signed him could get him back into form. Castillo is notable for being one of the two players shipped to Pittsburgh in the Clay Holmes deal, which yielded excellent results for the Yankees. Hoy-Jun Park, another utility player, was also shipped off in the trade, with both players no longer in the Pirates’ organization.

mlb: houston astros at seattle mariners, matt gage, yankees
May 7, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Matt Gage (91) pitches to the Seattle Mariners during the sixth inning at T-Mobile Park. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Claiming Matt Gage should give the Yankees much-needed left-handed depth in their bullpen, as not only do they lack left-handed relievers at the Major League level, but they also lack reliable options in the upper levels of their farm system. Nick Ramirez was solid last season but posted worse numbers against left-handed batters, and Matt Krook had an ugly ERA in his short time in the Bronx last season (24.75).

Over the past two seasons, the 30-year-old has tossed 19.2 innings at the Major League level with a 1.83 ERA, sporting a strong strikeout rate (26%) and excellent groundball rates as well (46.7%). His four-seam fastball has unique characteristics since it generates glove-side movement with over 16 inches of Induced Vertical Break. Gage also sports a cutter and sweeping slider, which are pitches that the Yankees feature prominently at the MLB and MiLB levels.

mlb: milwaukee brewers at new york yankees, wandy peralta
Sep 9, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Wandy Peralta (58) pitches in the seventh inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees continue to search for bullpen help in free agency as well, as they’ve been linked to names like Wandy Peralta, Keynan Middleton, Phil Maton, and Ryan Brasier. It’s expected for the reliever market to pick up as Spring Training draws closer, although the Yankees will have to fight off some competition for their reliever targets. The Mets are among the teams interested in the services for Peralta, and plenty of teams are looking for low-cost bullpen depth.

Adding a low-cost reliever on a short-term deal could prove to be advantageous for the Yankees, who sported the best bullpen ERA in baseball last season (3.34) and might lead the league in that category once again.