The luxury of having a deep and talented farm system eventually develops into an "issue" - 40-man roster crunches.
The Yankees will have a multitude of 40-man roster decisions to make this winter ahead of the Rule 5 draft with a plethora of players requiring either movement elsewhere or being assigned to the Yankees roster, before potentially losing them to the draft. The 40-man roster can be a major guessing game; which players will mean the most to the team's future and which might be considered expendable? If the Yankees were wise, they would begin to make some of those decisions now versus waiting for the trade deadline or the winter in an effort to reduce some of the guessing.
The Yankees have made various transactions over the last several days which were directly affected by their desire to not disrupt the 40-man roster. The Yanks called up a Douple-A pitcher, Ronald Herrera, to add depth to the bullpen. The Yankees recalled Luis Cessa to make a spot start Sunday. New York decided to bring up Mason Williams to play center field in Aaron Hicks' absence. Beyond those recent moves, Rob Refsnyder remains a Yankee.
None of these decisions were especially egregious, but the Yankees are now in a position to test players they see making a long-term difference in their future. My contention is that it is time to see exactly what players like Chance Adams, Tyler Austin, Dustin Fowler and Tyler Wade and others can offer. Do they need more seasoning, will they be worth placing/keeping on the 40-man roster next season at the expense of others?
The production these players are manufacturing at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is all well and good, but it is not the major leagues. Look at the difference the Yankees have seen in many of the relievers being shuttled back and forth on the 40-man. One example, Ben Heller, is quite effective at Triple-A and scuffles in New York. Could it be a product of minimal time and not being allowed to stick longer than a day or two, or that they'll just not be successful in the majors?
Now, Fowler and Wade would not be taking over full-time roles, but they are arguably better than the players they could replace on the 40-man roster (Williams and Refsnyder respectively). The notion that Fowler or Wade would lose development at this point is ridiculous in my opinion. Any reps they get in the big leagues could mean more to the Yankees than production at Triple-A.
Williams is a good story and suffered from unfortunate injuries, but he's underperformed in the minors, while Fowler has shredded Triple-A pitching one season after crushing Double-A hurlers. Wade is more versatile than Ronald Torreyes and is simply an electric player. Torreyes is a nice bench player, but there is also a reason he has been with six teams including the Yankees since 2015.
Why use Luis Cessa for a spot start when Adams is performing better and has a much higher upside. Cessa was a nice depth addition, but at this stage, with CC Sabathia on the shelf and uneven performances from the rotation of late, the Yankees must put their best efforts forward if they hope to stick in the playoff hunt. Cessa doesn't move the needle.
Cessa, Refsnyder, Torreyes and Williams might have some value for other teams and since we're being completely objective have NO spot in the Yankees' future. Absolutely, none. The Yankees should take the chance to make moves with these players now, not later. The Yankees could obtain players that fill needed spots in lower levels of the system who are not going to be Rule 5 eligible this season.
While I agree it would be taking a bigger step for the Yankees to part ways with first baseman Chris Carter and reliever Tyler Clippard, I ask again, can the Yankees withstand their loss? There is no doubt in my mind that they could.
Even with the risk of Austin not being any better than Carter, what playing time does for Austin now is help the Yankees make choices for the near and long-term future. Maybe the Yankees will want to go outside the organization at the trade deadline if they give up on Greg Bird for the year due to his health issues. How will they know if they don't test Austin? They already know what Carter provides and it won't change.
Clippard was a nice pickup last season, but he is clearly not the same as he was after the 2016 trade deadline and he was suffering in Arizona before the trade. In the meantime, there are pitchers to test for a longer period of time - maybe Bryan Mitchell, Giovanny Gallegos or Ben Heller - to determine if they should be occupying a 40-man roster spot down the road. These types of assessments also aid the Yankees in determining whether they need to make deadline moves in these areas of the roster.
The Yankees can no longer dance around supposed "constraints" of the 40-man roster as it currently exists. It is time to make some tough decisions ahead of the normal schedule so that they can make well-reasoned plans for the trade deadline and over the winter based on MLB experience versus what they hope to receive derived from minor league evaluations.