The New York Yankees are in the midst of a youthful resurgence, but it’s evident not all of them can stick around.Unless you haven’t been paying attention to the New York Yankees, you’re well aware of the fountain of youth that is flooding the Bronx.
It began with first baseman Greg Bird in 2015, when he smashed 11 home runs in 46 games making not only a smooth transition to the major leagues, but giving the fans a taste of what the future holds.
Who knew that would just be the beginning? As Gary Sanchez’s historic surge brought the craze to an entirely different level.
With that, team sell, prospect huggers and the baby bomber bandwagon have all seen a jump in population, as New York’s farm system enhanced to the greatest in baseball.
Unfortunately, the league won’t let all of the many highly touted kids in the Yankees’ system remain with the organization. That’s right, folks. Along with the promise and rewards that come with prospects, there’s a catch that comes with it.
Of course, the risk of having kids not pan out is one of the aspects, but major league baseball actually regulates the number of prospects in a system primarily through the Rule-5 Draft.
Players that are not on their major league organization’s 40-man roster and were 18 or younger on the June 5 prior their signing, are eligible for selection in the Rule-5 draft.
That player is automatically added to the team’s (that selects him) 40-man roster but if the team does not want to keep the player on its 25-man roster for the following regular season, he must be offered back to the team in which he was a member when chosen in the draft.
More prominently, the Yankees lost catcher Luis Torrens — who his highly regarded for his defensive work behind the plate and is considered by MLB.com to have 15-homer potential from the right side of the plate.
While there is a chance these kids find their way back to the Yankees, if Torrens is not added to the 40-man next year and is picked in the Rule-5 Draft again, he’ll have the right to elect free agency as opposed to coming back to the organization that signed him.
Meaning unless he’s — among others — are given a 40-man roster spot, then they’ll be sent away for virtually nothing and the losses in 2018 may be even worse than it was back on December 8 of this offseason.
Brian Cashman must add 19 prospects to the 40-man roster including Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Jordan Montgomery, Tyler Wade, Ian Clarkin, Rashad Crawford and Dustin Fowler. Jake Cave is also primed to hit minor league free agency after the 2017 season.
Sure, you’ll see guys like Torres and Frazier protected, but many other prospects like Fowler, Montgomery, Wade and Cave have major league ETA’s of 2017 with very high ceilings.
Unlike the guys taken this season, who were nothing more than some of the more obscure Yankee prospects, next season will see high-end prospects qualified to be offered, and likely taken by other teams with open arms, in the Rule-5 draft.
Therefore, despite the fact that this issue is far from pressing right now, Cashman needs to consider under-the-radar moves that won’t land a front-page spot on the NY Post, but will go a long way for making sure high-ceiling prospects remain within the organization.
Remember when southpaw James Pazos was sent to the Seattle Mariners for Zack Littell on November 18? That was to simply cut Pazos from the 40-man while not making it a complete loss, as Littell is a year apart from Rule-5 qualification.
That made it possible for a kid like Dietrich Enns, who went 14-4 with a 1.87 ERA in 26 games (22 starts) last season, to be placed on the 40-man and protected from what would have been an unavoidable selection in the draft.
In order to further clean the surplus of players soon-to-be eligible for the draft, little moves like this go a long way to make sure the organization preserves some of its high-end prospects.
From drafting better to selling some assets at last year’s deadline, New York has done a tremendous job in preparing itself for the future. With that said, they can’t be hoarders.
Baseball has made it a mandate that a team must add prospects to the 40-man or else he’ll have an opportunity to earn a major league roster spot with another organization.
With prospects containing the highest of ceilings (including all-star-caliber) being eligible a year from now, low-key moves involving near-major league prospects, like the Pazos trade, or trades that involve shaving veteran salaries for prospects that have ways to go before eligibility, like the Brian McCann trade, need to be considered.