With the 2023 MLB Season set to begin, the Yankees roster is starting to take shape as the team prepares to host the San Francisco Giants on March 30th. As the Yankees continue to trim their roster, the team finds themselves searching for a solution to handle left field. This Spring, it appeared that former top prospect, Estevan Florial was given a shot to make the big league roster, however, inconsistent play leaves him not only unlikely to win the position, but might signal the end of his Yankees career.
Out of Options
The biggest issue for the Yankees roster and Florial is the team no longer has the option to send Florial to the minor leagues. Every professional baseball player starts with three minor-league options, which signals how many times a player can be sent to the minor leagues. Depending on career progression, some players are eligible for a fourth minor league option.
Anytime a player doesn’t make the big league roster or placed on the 60-day injured list, the team must use one of these options to send the player to the minor leagues. Once an option is used for the year, no additional options are required to send the player between the minors and majors for that season.
For the Yankees roster, the team no longer has any options and cannot simply send Florial down to Triple-A to start the season.
Finding a Fit
The biggest issue for Florial is there doesn’t appear to be a home on the Yankees roster for him. Going into the season, the team will very likely have Aaron Judge and Oswaldo Cabrera locked in to two of their outfield spots, along with Giancarlo Stanton who might see some time in the field.
With Hal Steinbrenner unwilling to pay Aaron Hicks to leave the Yankees roster has either 3 or 4 outfield spots locked down, depending on how one classifies Stanton.
With the importance placed by the team on their bullpen, the Yankees roster is very likely to start the season carrying 13 pitchers, bringing the total amount of accounted players up to 17.
In the infield, the Yankees roster will likely feature some combination of Anthony Rizzo, DJ Lemahieu, Gleyber Torres and Josh Donaldson, with either Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza at shortstop. After accounting for the catching duo of Jose Trevino and Kyle Higashioka, the Yankees roster moves to 24 filled spots.
With the Yankees roster seemingly committed to finding a home for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the team has only one spot left.
Unfortunately for Florial, the biggest issue with his play has consistently been his bat. While he has hit well at times in the minor leagues, the now 25-year old has struggled against Major League pitching. In very limited at-bats at the Major League level, he has managed to slash a meager .097/.200/.097, accumulating only 3 hits in 31 at-bats.
This Spring, he hasn’t been much better, hitting .182/.290/.303, doing little to instill faith in him for a spot on the Yankees roster. With the lack of production at the plate, it seems unlikely that the Yankees roster can manage to give one of its final two spots to Florial. Furthermore, if he is given one of the spots, the Yankees will likely see the return of Harrison Bader in the near future, further complicating things for Florial.
Instead, it appears that the time in the Yankees organization could be ending for the once exciting prospect.
One Last “Option”
If he can’t convince the front office in the final 10-days of Spring Training, Florial will either have to be traded or designated for assignment. Players that are designated for assignment are placed on outright waivers before they can be placed back in the minor league system.
This means that every other team will get the chance to add Florial to their roster, without having to send compensation back to the Yankees. There is a very realistic chance that a rebuilding team might be willing to give Florial chance with the hopes that a new home can help him develop.
In the event he is not claimed, the Yankees will have the opportunity to send the former top-100 prospect to their minor league system, this time without being a member of the 40-man roster.
Let us know in the comments below your thoughts on the Yankees roster as Spring Training ends!
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images