Yankees Opening Day roster predictions

Art or Photo Credit: USA Today

The New York Yankees have almost completed the Spring Training portion of their 2021 season with several promising signs of a strong campaign on the horizon.

The primary starting pitchers have flourished, the lineup has shown strong signs from top to bottom and now the Yankees coaching staff is left with some difficult decisions as roster crunch time arrives.

Most of the everyday players from 2020 are back and ready to reclaim their respective roles on the diamond, but there may be a handful of notable changes to the lineup, rotation and roster with Opening Day looming on April 1.

Here now we’ll take a look at how the Yankees’ 26-man roster could take shape for the start of the 2021 season.


Gerrit Cole, RHP

Corey Kluber, RHP

Jameson Taillon, RHP

Jordan Montgomery, LHP

Domingo German, RHP

One of the main storylines entering camp for the Yankees this season regarded which hurler would pitch his way into the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Deivi Garcia was one of the two most likely candidates and has been very solid on the mound in 2021, posting a 1.64 ERA across 11 innings with 12 strikeouts and six walks. But perhaps the most impressive pitcher on the entire roster this spring has been Domingo German, one of a number of Yankees pitchers with a spotless 0.00 ERA so far, as well as a 13 K/1 BB ratio through his first nine innings. German has not pitched in the Majors since 2019 following a suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policies, but his strong spring showing has virtually guaranteed his claim to the fifth and final rotation spot.


Aroldis Chapman, LHP

Chad Green, RHP

Darren O’Day, RHP

Luis Cessa, RHP

Jonathan Loaisiga, RHP

Nick Nelson, RHP

Lucas Luetge, LHP

Justin Wilson, LHP

The first major injury blow to the Yankees came earlier this spring when Zack Britton was forced to undergo bone chip removal surgery, which may keep him out for the first half of the 2021 season. Additionally, the Yankees are waiting to hear the severity of returning lefty Justin Wilson’s setback after he exited his most recent spring appearance with shoulder tightness. With two veteran lefties potentially out of the mix for Opening Day (depending on Wilson's prognosis), the focus now moves to other options such as Lucas Luetge, a non-roster invitee who has dazzled with 15 strikeouts, one walk and a 2.35 ERA in 7 2/3 innings this spring; and Tyler Lyons, another experienced lefty who’s also outside of the 40-man roster, but has previous big-league experience in pinstripes between 2019-20.


Luke Voit, 1B

DJ LeMahieu, 2B

Gleyber Torres, SS

Gio Urshela, 3B

Gary Sanchez, C

The Yankees infield returns entirely intact for 2021 after the re-signing of DJ LeMahieu and the continued confidence in Gary Sanchez’s bounce-back potential after his difficult 2020 campaign. Sanchez has shown signs of improvement at the plate this spring and will hope that a fresh start and a full 162-game slate can help him return to his previous Silver Slugger form. With discussions about Gio Urshela possibly being another option for the Yankees at shortstop, that would open the door for more defensive versatility with the group they’ve got now but could also subsequently impact which players may round out the bench unit and break camp with the team.


Clint Frazier, LF

Aaron Hicks, CF

Aaron Judge, RF

Giancarlo Stanton, OF/DH

One major shakeup to the Yankees outfield rotation for 2021 is the arrival of Clint Frazier as an everyday player after steady improvements on both sides of the ball for the 26-year-old. Another new wrinkle could be the return of Giancarlo Stanton, the team’s main designated hitter, for some occasional defensive appearances as Aaron Boone has confirmed. Coming off an unforgettable postseason performance last October, Stanton has been one of the toughest outs in the Yankees lineup this spring with a slash line of .391/.500/.609 through his first nine appearances. Brett Gardner is also back for 2021 and will come off the bench for New York, and veteran non-roster invitee Jay Bruce has also made a strong case for himself so far this spring. Speaking of the bench …


Kyle Higashioka, C

Brett Gardner, OF

Tyler Wade, INF/OF

Mike Tauchman, OF

Outside of the Yankees’ bullpen reshuffling, the other major roster competition at this point is between which men will claim the final roster spots as reserve players. Backup catcher Kyle Higashioka and veteran Brett Gardner are both locks. In all likelihood Tyler Wade will reclaim his job as the team’s utility/speed guy off the bench. The final spot will likely come down to one of the following three lefty bats: Mike Tauchman, Jay Bruce and Derek Dietrich.

Both Bruce and Dietrich have extensive MLB experience and provide significant pop from the left side of the plate, but Tauchman has the benefit of familiarity as well as the ability to play center field, which neither Bruce nor Dietrich can offer. The Yankees have gotten a long look at both Bruce and Dietrich this spring and have seen firsthand what Tauchman can bring to the lineup over his last two seasons with the Bombers, so this last roster decision may be a difficult one for Aaron Boone and his staff.

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