The Yankees have placed 11 players on the disabled list this season. The number of waiver wire moves used to fill the voids - zero.
The Yankees of yesteryear utilized the waiver wire as a means to fill vacancies due to a bumbling farm system. That's a thing of the past as they have committed to building and maintaining a depth in the minor leagues.
Having an extensive system is one thing, but the Yankees have demonstrated that they have plenty of MLB-ready players at their disposal.
The Yankees' depth was put to the test last week as the club dug into the Triple-A roster bringing up four top prospects as injury replacements. One after the other, they dragged up prospects that were not expected to make such early appearances in the major leagues. The call-ups came just after Chris Carter was designated for assignment in favor of first base prospect Tyler Austin, who unfortunately suffered an injury of his own.
Tyler Wade, Miguel Andujar, Dustin Fowler (who suffered a season-ending injury himself), and Clint Frazier all made their major league debuts this past week. Wade has played three of his five positions already, Andujar opened his career with three hits and RBIs, while Frazier doubled and homered in his first MLB game. Each of their stays might be short (Andujar has been optioned twice already), but the Yankees are getting a good look at the talent they've developed (or secured) in recent seasons.
Beyond the big week of call-ups, the Yankees have been utilizing the reliever shuttle to its fullest extent this season as well.
They have had no issue bringing up starters to use as relievers, and they've even gone down to Double-A Trenton to retrieve one pitcher, Ronald Herrera, because he was on the club's 40-man roster.
The Yankees are no longer nervous to call upon the players in their system versus reaching out to the dregs of the waiver wire or to languishing free agent.
Like other clubs, the Yankees set out to build a complete farm system. That part is certainly attainable, but the assurances are never quite there. Even more difficult is constructing a system that replenishes itself from one level to the other. The Yankees have not only created a balanced system, they have managed to generate a stable full of ready players for the inevitable occurrences they dealt with in the last seven days.
While the recent injuries were not welcomed (each of the players that went down of late had been performing well), what the Yankees have learned is that they have competent internal answers. The call-ups might not be with the big club the rest of the season, but they will be able to determine if they are the answers for subsequent injuries or even poor performance among the current regulars.
Once the starters make their returns, there will be decisions to make. Will they shuttle Carter again when Austin is ready? Has Rob Refsnyder seen his final games with New York once Hicks is back with the Yankees in order to keep Frazier up with the club? Is there a spot for Wade when Castro returns?
The decisions should also pertain to the upcoming non-waiver trade deadline. The Yankees can still utilize the recent call-ups instead of looking at the rental trade market, and it could be argued that they should strongly consider it as the losses continue to pile up.
Could the Yankees use a better first baseman? Of course, but at what cost and for what benefit? The Yankees cannot retreat into rental fixes this season.
In addition to the players who reached the big leagues this week, the Yanks still have others in the farm system who might be able to contribute but have yet to get the call. For example, right-hander Chance Adams has been stellar his entire minor league career and he can be used as either a starter if there is another injury, or as a reliever if the current crop continues to scuffle.
Even first baseman Ji-Man Choi (.873 OPS in 185 at-bats), despite the fact that he's not on the 40-man roster, may be an option for first base if all else fails. Will Andujar's bat be too potent to ignore as an option at third base?
The Yankees endured a rough week of major injuries, yet one after the other they dipped into the farm system and made legitimate replacements instead of signing or trading for replacement-level players. They will hopefully take notice of the internal depth displayed from the past week as they.