Yankees’ way-too-early 26-man roster prediction: Will they trade Donaldson, Hicks and IKF?

oswaldo cabrera, yankees
Aug 26, 2022; Oakland, California, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Judge (99) celebrates with right fielder Oswaldo Cabrera (95) after batting him in on a three-run home run against the Oakland Athletics during the fifth inning at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees still have some time to make a move or two before the 2023 season starts. They could sign a new left fielder via free agency (Jurickson Profar is an option), they can trade for Bryan Reynolds, they could flip Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, or Aaron Hicks.

If status quo prevails, they have a competitive roster to fight for the AL East crown once again. Will it be enough to beat the Houston Astros or the up-and-coming American League powerhouses as currently constructed? That’s a hard question to answer.

The Yankees vastly improved their pitching staff by adding Carlos Rodon and Tommy Kahnle. The lineup, however, is the same that got shut down by Houston in the ALCS and that struggled mightily in the second half.

Let’s take a look at what the 26-man roster could look like on Opening Day.

Yankees’ projected 26-man roster for Opening Day

Catchers: Jose Trevino, Kyle Higashioka

First basemen: Anthony Rizzo

Middle infielders: Gleyber Torres, Oswald Peraza, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, DJ LeMahieu

Third basemen: Josh Donaldson

Outfielders: Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton, Harrison Bader, Oswaldo Cabrera

Starters: Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Nestor Cortes Jr., Luis Severino, Domingo Germán, Clarke Schmidt

Relievers: Clay Holmes, Ron Marinaccio, Jonathan Loaisiga, Wandy Peralta, Tommy Kahnle, Lou Trivino, Albert Abreu

Depending on how he looks in spring training, Ben Rortvedt could have a chance to make the team and fight for playing time. He has more offensive upside than both Higashioka and Trevino.

LeMahieu could back up Rizzo at first base, but he is expected to see a lot of time at third base. The Yankees would ideally unload both Donaldson and Hicks before the start of the campaign, but that’s easier said than done. For now, both of them are part of the roster.

Ideally, the Yankees would bring a left fielder, but if they don’t, Cabrera is a fine option with a promising bat and an impact arm in the outfield.

Germán and Schmidt are expected to battle for the fifth starter spot in spring training. When Frankie Montas returns, he will regain that role.

The Yankees’ bullpen is looking strong, and while Michael King is ready to get back to action, Abreu could be in danger of losing his spot on the roster.

All things considered, this is a very good roster on paper. Depending on the future of IKF, Hicks, and Donaldson, it could still endure significant changes.