It was unlikely Gary Sanchez was ever going to break camp as the New York Yankees’ backup catcher since he is a top five prospect in the system, but a 1-22 spring sure made the decision easier. Long-time fringe prospect, Austin Romine outplayed Sanchez this spring and will be the backup when the Yankees break camp next week.
Sanchez needs to play everyday and he needs to spend at least 35 days in the minors so this season doesn’t count as a lost year of team control for a bench player. Both of these things are vital when you’re considered a player who will have an extended major league career starting in a lineup.
So the cards were probably stacked against Sanchez from the start, but like fellow top prospect, Aaron Judge, Sanchez did no favors and the entire universe of Yankees’ fans will be watching closely to see if the two players improve in AAA to start the year.
In the mean time, Romine will back up McCann and Ackley and Hicks will join him on the bench. It seems implied whoever doesn’t win the battle between Ivan Nova and CC Sabathia for the final rotation spot is headed to the bullpen, and despite a shaky but not terrible outing from Sabathia, Joe Girardi seems to be hinting at Nova being that man.
Bryan Mitchell was the heir apparent to Adam Warren and has had a good spring, he will be in the bullpen. Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betanches and Andrew Miller were also givens. Since the Yankees will only have four bench players, that leaves two more spots for relievers. At this point, Johnny Barbato seems to be the front-runner for one and Tyler Olson, despite a good spring, is likely going to stay stretched out in AAA as a starter. So that leaves one spot most likely for: Anthony Swarzek, Nick Goody, Brandon Pinder or Nick Rumbelow, all but Goody having a solid spring.
The final battle of backup third baseman seems to be a three man race between: Rob Refsnyder, Pete Kozma and Ronald Torreyes. Kozma has struggled and had some injuries this spring and is least likely to win a spot with the team out of camp. It would appear Girardi has become intrigued by Refsnyder as he keeps giving him options at third base to try to learn the position. Refsnyder, a home grown who has demonstrated he can hit at a major league level, is probably the lock at this point with Torreyes providing depth in the minors in the event of extended injury to Didi Gregorius or Starlin Castro.
Expect Barbato, Refsnyder and Romine to break camp, with one more reliever still to be decided.