A Way Too Early 2020 Yankees Roster Prediction

The 2019 season still has plenty of promise for the Yankees, but with so many contributors it’s hard not to look ahead at who will stay and who will go in 2020.

The motto of the 2019 New York Yankees have been next man up. With injuries affecting every single player from the team’s opening day, the Yankees have thrived due to the outstanding jobs of understudies.

DJ LeMahieu Gio Urshela, Mike Tauchman, Cameron Maybin the list goes on and on of Yankees who were not in the opening day lineup that have played crucial roles to the team’s success.

On the pitching side, the Yankees have been without their top starting pitcher Luis Severino and four-time all-star reliever Delin Betances the entire season. The team hasn’t missed a beat, however. Domingo German filled the void left by Severino and has become the team’s stopper on the mound and Tommy Kahnle who had an awful 2018 season found his rhythm and has moved into Betances role doing just as good a job.

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With all the injured Yankees set to return sometime soon and surely no later than the start of next season, Brian Cashman is going to have a lot of decisions to make.

He will have to part ways with multiple contributors of the 2019 Yankees who may just end up helping bring home championship number 28. Who will stay? Who will go? Let’s take an early guess based on 2020 performance, contract situations, future free-agent signings, trades and more.

Catchers (2)

Starter: Gary Sanchez

Back-Up: Kyle Higashioka

There’s no doubt that Gary Sanchez is the Yankees catcher for several years to come thus unless there’s an injury he’ll be the Bombers opening day catcher. The question is, who will be his back up?

The answer the Yankees want is Austin Romine, but this is unlikely. Romine is a free agent at seasons end and has been so reliable as a backup that he’s likely chopping at the bit to play somewhere where he can start. Thus, it’s very likely the Yankees allow him to walk and get the chance to play every day elsewhere.

With Romine gone the Yankees likely won’t invest in a backup thus the job will probably belong to Kyle Higashioka. The 29-year-old has been in the Yankees minor league system since 2008 and the last two seasons has shown power when backing up Austin Romine due to Sanchez’s injuries.

Thus, expect Higashioka to win the backup job come next spring as the 30-year-old Romine finally gets his chance as a starter for another club.

Infielders (5)

1B: Luke Voit

2B: Gleyber Torres

SS: Didi Gregorius

3B: DJ LeMahieu

Reserve: Gio Urshela

There are a couple of question marks for the Yankees infield heading into 2020. The biggest question will be will they re-sign Didi Gregorius. I believe the answer will be yes.

Gregorius has been a catalyst in helping the Yankees rebound from a handful of down years into becoming a perennial contender. His production both at the plate and in the field is irreplaceable, and it’s doubtful they will let that walk out the door.

The second question is who stays between Gio Urshela and Miguel Andujar. There’s no doubt in my mind that guy has to be Urshela.
Along with playing perhaps the best defensive third base in the American Leauge Ursehla has hit 15 home runs and is batting an unbelievable .323. In addition, he has become a fan favorite, and there’s no way the Yankees can let him go.

Thus, expect Andujar to either start the season in Triple-A while he recovers from injury or be flipped for prospects or a pitcher.

Outfielders (5)

LF: Giancarlo Stanton

CF: Aaron Hicks

RF: Aaron Judge

Reserve: Brett Gardner

Reserve: Mike Tauchman

Pending any injuries, the Yankees starting outfield is pretty much set for the next several years. Giancarlo Stanton is at this point a Yankee for life, Aaron Judge isn’t going anywhere and Aaron Hicks was signed by the Yanks through 2025. Thus, the question marks reside on the bench.

Yes, the Yankees value having an extra reliever and working with a three-person bench. However, we saw when Cameron Maybin impressed, and Stanton was on the way back from an injury that the team is willing to ditch that plan. That likely will be the case in 2020.

Maybin is a free-agent and is 32. Thus the team will probably let him walk. However, I do think they will re-sign Brett Gardner and keep Mike Tauchman aboard. Gardner brings an irreplaceable veteran presence to the locker room and is on pace to finish the season with 25 home runs. Thus, he should be brought back. Tauchman has broken out and is starting to become a name the whole baseball world knows which likely gives him a spot on the 2020 club.

The odd men out are Clint Fraizer and Jacoby Ellsbury. Fraizer will likely finally get traded to a team that he can play for every day, and Ellsbury is well Ellsbury. Thus, I see Gardner and Tauchman earning the bench spot.

Starting Pitchers (5)

  1. Luis Severino
  2. Masahiro Tanaka
  3. James Paxton
  4. Domingo German
  5. J.A. Happ

Win the world series are not, Yankees fans are going to begging Brian Cashman to go out and spend big money on Gerrit Cole or Madison Bumgarner. However, this time, Cashman has a valid excuse not to.

Pending any significant setbacks, Luis Severino will be back atop the Yankees rotation next season. Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ are both being paid a significant amount for next season, Paxton is under contract until 2021, and Domingo German is far too good to move on from.

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Thus, there’s not much room for the Yankees to add another starting pitcher. In addition, the Yankees need to start saving as much money as they can. They have to save money for the likes of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, and other young players who soon enough will demand large contracts.

Bullpen (7)

Closer: Aroldis Chapman

8th: Zack Britton

7th: Tommy Kahnle

Mid Relief

Adam Ottavino

Brad Hand 

Chad Green

Nester Cortes Jr.

Two or three of the Yankees top relievers will be free-agents as seasons end. Both Tommy Kahnle and Delin Betances are free-agents, and Aroldis Chapman has an opt-out.

I fully expect Chapman back in the Bronx whether he opts out or not. It is also likely the Yankees hold onto Kahnle. Thus, I see Betances as the odd man out. Betances’ has feuded with the organization before in arbitration and likely would benefit from a fresh start.

The bold prediction I have is that the Yankees will replace Betances by trading for Indians closer Brad Hand. With no room to improve the rotation, Cashman can go to plan B and stack the pen. If the Indians have any prayer of holding onto young stars, Fransico Lindor and Jose Ramirez they need to clear salary and Hand is likely someone they’ll move.

With holes in their outfield, Clint Fraizer who they originally drafted in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft could be a perfect fit to lead a package of prospects that could land the Yankees hand.


  1. I mostly agree, though I’m not sure that they’ll resign Gardner if his price is too high. As it is his final year, they may cut Ellsbury at some point.

    Andujar and Frasier give them trade options, so I won’t be shocked to see them moved but either could work as a DH if they opt out on Encarcion.

    It is Tanaka’s last year, and maybe Happ’s as well. Would they perhaps trade Happ (I don’t think he has a NTC) and go after Cole? That would be a significant upgrade to the rotation, and would afford them the ability to keep Garcia in SWB to develop. They’d still have Montgomery and Loaisiga for in case of injury.

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