The way too early Yankees 26-man roster prediction for 2021 MLB season

Scott Thompson
·4 min read
Corey Kluber/DJ LeMahieu/Clint Frazier/Gary Sanchez
Corey Kluber/DJ LeMahieu/Clint Frazier/Gary Sanchez

The Yankees have yet to make a big move this offseason – that move being the re-signing of DJ LeMahieu in particular. But other than that, GM Brian Cashman really wasn’t expected to make any large offseason additions heading into the 2021 season.

LeMahieu, no matter what he decides to do, will determine where the Yanks go from here. Starting pitching help is needed, but again, the budget for the players the Yanks can go after will likely be determined after LeMahieu’s decision. The expected roster for next season is already mostly in place, though.

So let’s break down this way-too-early roster prediction for the Bombers for 2021, with, of course, a couple of educated guesses on moves Cashman might make:

REGULAR LINEUP

Gary Sanchez, C
Luke Voit, 1B
DJ LeMahieu, 2B
Gleyber Torres, SS
Gio Urshela, 3B
Clint Frazier, LF
Aaron Hicks, CF
Aaron Judge, RF
Giancarlo Stanton, DH

Yes, the Yankees re-sign LeMahieu in this story. It’s hard to see Cashman getting outbid for him at the end of the day, especially after his comments this past season about wanting to remain in New York. Nothing else really stands out except for Frazier in left field. Yes, Stanton will likely have time out there, but there have been no talks about Brett Gardner returning and Frazier had a great shortened season. He should head into camp the favorite to play left on Opening Day.

The Yanks also shouldn’t be done with Torres at shortstop just yet. Again, things can change when LeMahieu signs, but he’s too young to give up on despite not having the best year at the position. Also, Urshela is certainly playing third after being a brick wall at the position for the past two seasons.

Finally, as Cashman said, Sanchez is the “heir apparent” to the catching position even though his 2020 was just about as bad as it gets. Kyle Higashioka still has a shot to beat him out in spring training, but the Yankees hope that won’t be the case. They still have faith Sanchez can turn it around.

STARTING ROTATION

Gerrit Cole, RHP
Jordan Montgomery, LHP
Corey Kluber, RHP
Luis Severino, RHP
Domingo German, RHP

Alright, now there’s certainly a lot that can change from this prediction now to a month from now. Cole and Montgomery are locks for this season. Severino is also on this list because he is expected to return post-Tommy John surgery at some point. 

After that, it’s a guessing game. The reason Kluber is on here is because he could be signed for cheap and is a high-reward arm after suffering a shoulder injury last season with the Texas Rangers. Kluber already has Yankees ties, too, with Matt Blake – former Indians pitching coach -- and new director of health and performance, Eric Cressey, on the team. Kluber is actually having his showcase at Cressey Sports Performance in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. next week, with the Yankees expected to be in attendance.

There’s also the young arms of Deivi Garcia, Michael King and Clarke Schmidt to think about over German. The hard-throwing righty was suspended this past season due to violating the league's domestic violence policy, but he has a chance to redeem himself and return to the rotation this season. If he is anything like he was in 2019, the Yanks would probably have him featured in their Top 5. One of those youngsters will likely need to step up in Severino's absence, too.

BULLPEN

Aroldis Chapman, CLS
Zack Britton, LHP
Adam Ottavino, RHP
Chad Green, RHP
Luis Cessa, RHP
Jonathan Loaisiga, RHP
Deivi Garcia, RHP
Michael King, RHP
Nick Nelson, RHP

Again, lots of movement can happen in this bullpen come spring training. But the back end is set the same as it was in 2020 with Chapman, Britton and Ottavino. However, Ottavino needs to eradicate his roller coaster season last year if he wants to be trusted by Aaron Boone.

Then, it’s really up for grabs in camp who makes the bullpen, and the Yankees must like the depth they have. The shortened season allowed guys like Garcia, King, Schmidt, Nelson, Albert Abreu and Ben Heller to be involved and make an impact. That’s why the Yanks will carry nine bullpen arms in this prediction, so that Boone can access as much depth as he can.

BENCH

Kyle Higashioka, C
Tyler Wade, UTIL
Mike Tauchman, OF

If the Yanks decide to carry that many bullpen arms, only three bench players can be available each night. Higashioka is the given here as the team’s backup catcher. Also, Wade has shown his versatility in the field and the Yankees use him everywhere to give starters a break on certain nights. And the outfield backup might actually have some competition now for Tauchman, with Greg Allen traded for on Wednesday. Though he didn’t play much in 2020, a camp battle will still occur.