3 Yankees position battles to watch at 2021 spring training

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Scott Thompson
·3 min read
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Deivi Garcia/Tyler Wade/Brett Gardner/Mike Tauchman/Clarke Schmidt
Deivi Garcia/Tyler Wade/Brett Gardner/Mike Tauchman/Clarke Schmidt

With all players needing to report to Yankees spring training on Monday, position battles will officially kick off as team activities begin.

Looking at the roster now, there isn’t much in the starting lineup that has a free-for-all competition coming. But in the pitching staff and other areas of depth, things are certainly up for grabs.

Let’s break down each battle and see who eventually comes out on top in the end, starting with the one most will be intrigued to watch over the next month:

Fifth Rotation Spot

Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon, Jordan Montgomery. Who rounds out that rotation is totally up in the air, and all candidates realize that one or two bad outings will result in no consideration for the job.

One would think Domingo German, despite not pitching since September 2019, has the frontrunner title for this job given his success on the mound in the past. But Deivi Garcia is also entering camp with a young, energetic arm looking for more in the bigs. Clarke Schmidt, Nick Nelson, Michael King and others – Jhoulys Chacin? – will also in heated competition.

This is the main battle of camp to see what manager Aaron Boone and GM Brian Cashman eventually decides on. It’s going to be a tough call at the end of the day, and it will be even tougher when Luis Severino eventually returns healthy, too. For now, choosing the right fifth man will be a big conversation throughout camp.

Position winner prediction: Domingo German

Bullpen Slots

The Yankees added Justin Wilson to their bullpen along with Darren O’Day to provide new faces that will work closely with Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman to handle the back-end.

But who else will make the cut?

It’s obvious the Yankees love their pitching depth in the bullpen, however, it’s going to be hard to put together the best of the best when all pitchers featured here are going to have great stuff. Chad Green should be an obvious addition, as is Luis Cessa given his years of support in multiple scenarios for the Yanks.

But those young pitchers above like Garcia and Schmidt could all be considered for the bullpen if the rotation is filled. Where does that leave guys like Jonathon Loaisiga, Kyle Barraclough and others? It will be interesting to see how many pitchers Boone carries, as he didn’t ultimately commit to 13 and 13 to even out those to position players.

Position winner prediction: Jonathan Loaisiga, Deivi Garcia

Bench Depth

Brett Gardner hasn’t been announced yet, but a deal is said to be finalized to bring back the longest-tenured Yankee. That just adds to the already-deep outfield pool Cashman brought in for this season that includes Jay Bruce, Derek Dietrich and Greg Allen. Mike Tauchman is also on that list as a player the Yankees have trusted to provide good at-bats and solid outfield play while starters have been hurt.

In the infield, Thairo Estrada and Tyler Wade are normally the ones that battle it out. But don’t forget Miguel Andujar is also on the squad and is position-less at the moment. If his bat looks ripe in the spring, the Yankees might feel obligated to keep him at least on their bench to use in any situation.

There can only be so many bench spots and the only given is Gardner, who wouldn’t re-sign if he didn’t have a spot on the 26-man. So that’s two to three spots left, making this a fun battle to watch.

Position winner prediction: Miguel Andujar, Brett Gardner, Tyler Wade, Mike Tauchman

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Side note: It’s Gary Sanchez job to lose at catcher with Kyle Higashioka right behind him. Though that can’t really be viewed as a battle at the moment, it’s worth keeping an eye on how Sanchez develops through camp to see if his offensive game is back on track. If it isn’t and he looks bad like he did in 2020, Boone might have another tough decision on his plate.