Searching For The Eventual 40-Man Casualties

One way or another, the 2014 Major League Baseball season will come to an end tonight.  Once that happens and the champagne starts flowing in one of the locker rooms in KC, the offseason will be officially underway.  The Yankees have plenty to do this offseason, as we've been detailing and dissecting for the last few weeks, and there could be a fair amount of roster turnover. Before we get to that part, it only makes sense to take a look at the current roster situation.  The Yankees always seem to be under some kind of 40-man roster squeeze and it stands to reason that they'll have another one on their hands at some point over the next few months as they re-sign and/or sign new players.

As of this morning, the Yankees have 45 players listed on their 40-man roster.  9 infielders, 9 outfielders, 5 catchers, and 22 pitchers.  When free agency becomes official, 12 of those players will come off the roster (Capuano, Hill, Huff, Kuroda, McCarthy, Robertson, Rogers, Drew, Headley, Jeter, Ichiro, Young), dropping the Yankees back down to 33.  Whether replaced internally or externally, we know they are going to need to add 1 starter, 1 shortstop, 1 third baseman, and at least 1 bench and bullpen spot apiece.  Add those 5 bodies back to the mix and you're up to 38.

Then there's the injured/suspended crew to consider.  A-Rod's suspension will be up and he'll get a spot back.  Martin Prado and CC Sabathia are expected to be ready to go by Opening Day, and Ivan Nova at some point later in the season.  That's 4 more 40-man spots needed and the Rule 5 Draft guys to consider as well.

A few unlucky heads are going to have to roll this offseason, and looking at the current 40-man landscape I'd say there are 4 players who stand out as sacrificial lambs.  Eury Perez and Antoan Richardson were roster expansion situational guys because of their speed and really don't project as anything more than Quad-A org depth.  They're expendable.  Same with Zelous Wheeler in the infield.  The most interesting name of the group is Jose Campos, the injured right-handed pitching prospect.  He's missed a ton of time since being the complimentary piece in the Pineda trade and he's rehabbing from TJS.  I could see the team working out one of those "release and then re-sign" deals with him to keep him in the organization without having him be dead roster space.

I also wouldn't be shocked to see someone like Preston Claiborne DFA'd or Shawn Kelley or Francisco Cervelli non-tendered if it came to that.  But those players have more value and more of a future with the team than the other 4 named.  When push comes to shove, and it will with all the roster work the Yankees need to do, I bet those 4 will be the first to go.