The New York Yankees roster has undergone many changes since opening day on March 28, but which have been the most significant?
March 28, 2019, was truly a fantastic day in Yankee world. Memories of Luke Voit’s first inning three-run home run and Adam Ottavino’s wizardly Yankees debut may seem so distant, but in reality, that game was only 79 days ago. Across those 79 days, the Yankees have rostered 41 different players, and seven of the players from their Opening Day roster are no longer on the 25-man roster.
There are also a number players who were not on the Opening Day roster and are not on the roster as of today but who have still played notable roles on the team this year, most notably Thairo Estrada, Jonathan Loaisiga and Joseph Harvey. Beyond those exceptions, here’s a look at which players from the Opening Day roster are no longer on the 25-man roster. Mike Tauchman and Chad Green also spent some time in the minors and off of the 25-man roster this season, but they were both recalled and are on the roster as of June 14.
After a historic rookie campaign in which he cemented himself as a centerpiece of the Yankees’ talented lineup and finished 2nd in American League Rookie of the Year voting, Andujar’s season ended prematurely this year. A shoulder injury from a dive into third base led to an IL stint that kept him on the shelf for all of April. When Andujar came back on May 4, something was clearly off with him, as he went just 3-for-34 in nine games.
He ultimately decided to have season-ending Labrum surgery and prepare to return at full strength in 2020. Fortunately, the emergence of Gio Urshela as one of the team’s top hitters and a reliable glove at third base has helped soften the blow of Andujar’s season-ending injury.
Bird’s Yankees career is shaping up to be one of the sadder stories in recent Yankees history. He burst onto the scene in 2015 with a monster second half of the season and then after missing all of 2016 with an injury, he was one of the team’s top hitters in their 2017 playoff run.
After an abysmal 2018, Bird surprised many by tearing the cover off the ball in Spring Training his year. Luke Voit officially “won” the first base job over him, but both of them started on Opening Day. Despite his incredible Spring Training, Bird didn’t do much in the 10 games he played in before going on the IL with a left plantar fascia tear, slugging just .257 and posting a -0.1 WAR. With Voit showing no signs of slowing down following his unfathomable hot streak after the Yankees traded for him last July, Bird doesn’t seem to have much of a place on the team for the time being, even if he gets healthy again.
When Luis Severino went down with a right shoulder injury in early March that is now expected to keep him out until July, it was clear that the Yankees’ rotation would need someone to step up in a big way, and German has done just that. His nine wins are tied for the most in MLB and he allowed three or fewer runs in nine of his first 10 starts. After three lackluster starts against the Royals, Red Sox and Indians in which he allowed 14 earned runs over just 14.2 innings, the Yankees placed German on the IL with a left hip flexor strain. Hopefully German will look much closer to the Cy Young candidate the Yankees saw in his first 10 starts of the year than the 8.59 ERA pitcher they saw in his last three starts once he returns.
The undoubted heart and soul of the team, Judge went down with a left oblique strain on April 20th in the midst of plenty of other injuries to other Yankees players, including Severino, Giancarlo Stanton, Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez and many more. In the 20 games Judge played in before his injury, he hit .288 with five home runs and 11 RBI’s while posting a 1.2 WAR. Respectable numbers no doubt, but with what Yankees fans had seen from Judge the last two years, it was clear that he was just starting to get going.
Though other outfielders like Clint Frazier and Cameron Maybin have stepped up in his absence, the Yankees will get an upgrade of immense proportions when Judge returns, both in the lineup and in right field. It seems like he could be back with the team as soon as next week, which would certainly help the Yankees get out of their recent scuffle.
Stanton’s first season in pinstripes left many fans divided on how to feel about him, as his 38 homers and 100 RBI’s were nothing to sneeze at, but again and again it seemed like he just couldn’t come through in clutch situations with runners on base. The 2017 NL MVP played in just three games this season before going on the IL with a left biceps strain on April 1st. After a number of setbacks while rehabbing, including a mysterious left calf tightness issue that was reportedly somehow caused by a hit by a pitch, Stanton is on track to return on Tuesday. His power bat has yet to have a chance to emerge this year, and he should slide perfectly back into the lineup when he returns.
After pitching well enough in his September cup of coffee last year to earn himself a spot on the ALDS roster, Tarpley broke camp with the team this season after a great Spring Training. He has bounced up and down between the big league team and the AAA RailRiders a number of times this year, and his results with the major league team have largely been a mixed bag. He has appeared in eight games and has allowed at least one run in five of them, never recording more than three outs.
However, his best outing of the season came last weekend when he recorded the save by striking out the side in the 10th inning of the Yankees 7-6 win over the Indians. He then got sent down on Wednesday after struggling in an appearance against the Mets on Tuesday night. He’ll most likely get back up to the majors again at some point this season, but as of now, he’s a pretty big question mark.
Essentially a low-risk, high-reward signing who the Yankees expected to play shortstop until Didi Gregorius returned, the injury-prone Tulowitzki impressed in Spring Training and had some fans excited to potentially see flashes of the former NL All-Star and MVP candidate. After hitting just .182 across 11 at-bats in five games, the Yankees placed Tulowitzki on the IL with a left calf strain on April 4th.
They later transferred him to the 60-Day IL on June 7th to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Gregorius. With Gregorius back and already finding his groove and Gleyber Torres also sure to see a fair amount of playing time at shortstop, there doesn’t seem to be much of a place for Tulowitzki on the team at this point. His days in pinstripes could very well be over.