The New York Yankees are just a few days away from starting out their spring training program, already extending invites to 29 non-roster players. Of course, a number of those are prospects looking to make an impact this spring and justify a potential promotion during the 2023 campaign.
Players like Anthony Volpe, Austin Wells, Jasson Dominguez, and Elijah Donnell are all auditioning for opportunities down the road, whether it be this upcoming season or in the future.
However, some are desperately trying to earn a roster spot at the MLB level, sticking around with the Yankees instead of trying to find a home elsewhere.
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Projecting three surprise cuts the Yankees could make after Spring Training:
1.) Estevan Florial
Estevan Florial is a prime cut candidate after spring training comes to an end. He’s completely out of minor-league options, and despite performing well at the AAA level with Scranton, his MLB numbers are disappointing.
Last year with Scranton, he hit .283 with a .368 OBP, 15 homers, 46 RBIs, and 39 stolen bases. At first glance, those are exquisite metrics that should justify a promotion and one that sticks. However, his 30.4% strikeout rate at the AAA level has unfortunately translated, hosting a 37.1% strikeout rate over 17 games last season with the Yankees. He hit .097 with a .200 OBP, recording a -6 wRC+.
Unless Florial has a tremendous spring and puts together an unexpected run at the starting left-field position, the Yankees may not have a roster spot to keep him around, so letting him walk could be their eventual decision. As a former top prospect in the farm system, this would be a disappointing end to his tenure with the Bombers.
2.) Rafael Ortega
Rafael Ortega was signed this off-season to compete in the outfield to add depth to the position. While this may not be a huge surprise, Ortega is good enough to stick around on the roster, but the Yankees have a few young prospects climbing the system that could get an opportunity over him.
At 31 years old, Ortega has a lefty bat, which the Yankees can maximize with their short right porch. However, he’s not known to be a slugger, tallying a career high 11 homers back in 2021. He hit .241 with a .331 OBP, seven homers, and 35 RBIs last season. Defensively, he played 63 innings in left field and 592.2 in the outfield combined, hosting a .993 fielding percentage, -2 defensive runs saved, and -1 out above average.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Ortega made the roster, but he has legitimate competition ahead of him, and the Yankees simply may not have enough outfield spots to roster him this upcoming season.
3.) Abert Abreu
One intriguing bullpen arm for the Yankees, Albert Abreu, has tremendous velocity but questionable control of his pitches. At 27 years old, there’s a reason that the Yankees traded him last year to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Jose Treviño.
Even Texas found it suitable to move on from Abreu, who eventually landed with the Kansas City Royals before being released once again. The Yanks scooped him up midway through the 2022 season at cost, and he put together a decent sample size of action. Over 25.2 innings in New York, the flamethrower hosted a 3.16 ERA, but despite solid outings and rather consistent performances, the team may not see his value.
The Yankees may want to go with a younger prospect like Jhony Brito or Randy Vasquez in exchange, which could be a more efficient move.