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Yankees Cut 5 Players From MLB Spring Roster, Add Former Closer Ernesto Frieri
- Updated: March 16, 2017
The closer Opening Day comes, the more that the New York Yankees will be making roster cuts to their spring MLB roster. In the second waves of cuts, five players were sent packing to the minors. Four of the five were pitchers, with the most notable being top prospect Chance Adams. In three games of action, Adams posted a 2.25 ERA in 4 innings of work (only 1 earned run) while striking out 5 batters. He surrendered three hits as well, with an opponents’ batting average of .214. Adams is the ranked as the eighth-best prospect in the organization. Drafted by the Yankees in 2015, he is expected to pitch in Double-A Trenton at the start of this season. Adams is one of the many prospects that the Yankees expect to be making an impact in the near future.
The other three pitchers that were cut were Johnny Barbato, Dietrich Enns, and Giovanny Gallegos. All three were competing for the final two spots in the bullpen. Out of the three, Gallegos had the best spring with a 3.60 ERA in 5 innings of work. Barbato looked like raw talent attempting to figure it out. His spring ERA was 9.64, the third highest on the team. Enns was also on the struggle bus, as his ERA was 7.71 in his 4.2 innings of work. All three pitchers have been assigned to Triple-A Scranton.
The most notable of the four cuts has to be prospect Miguel Andujar. Ranked as the ninth best Yankees prospect, Andujar was impressive this spring. He played in 13 games this spring and had 23 at-bats. In those 23 at-bats, Andujar batted .304/.333/.478 with 3 extra base hits (2 doubles and a triple) and struck out 6 times. In the field, Andujar struggled, though. He made 5 errors in 16 chances that he had. That equates to a .688 fielding percentage, which is abysmal.
There is important information to take form Andujar’s spring. His impressive spring could impact the Yankees in the upcoming offseasons. Under the assumption that Andujar remains a Yankee (and is not traded), Andujar could be the Yankees’ third baseman in a season or two. The obvious statement would be to say that Chase Headley is all but gone at the point. However, if Andujar can play like this (offensively) at the MLB level during the regular season, any hopes of the Yankees signing a free agent Manny Machado goes right out the window. That is not a bad thing; Andujar led all Yankee third basemen (that includes non-roster invitees who would be used as utility infielders) in offense this spring.
Ernesto Frieri Adds Depth to Bullpen
While making roster cuts, the Yankees have reportedly signed former closer Ernesto Frieri to a minor league deal. After a workout on Wednesday, Frieri stated that he expected to be signed on Thursday. At this point in Spring Training, Frieri will definitely begin the season in the minors. However, his path to the big leagues could be a quick one if he pitches well early.
Ernesto Frieri has not pitched in the MLB since 2015. With the Tampa Bay Rays, Frieri pitched in 22 games and posted a 4.63 ERA. In his 23.1 innings of work, he faced 100 batters. Out of those 100 batters faced, Frieri only surrendered 20 hits but walked 11. He struck out 19 in those outings as well. While nothing brilliant, Frieri posted respectable numbers. If he can duplicate those numbers for the Yankees, that would make this investment worthwhile.
The former closer for the Los Angeles Angels had his best season in 2012. That year, Frieri pitched in 67 games for the San Diego Padres and Angels. Between the two squads, Frieri racked up 23 saves and had an ERA of 2.32. In only 66 innings, Frieri struck out 98 batters. Frieri’s 2013 season was also a solid one, posting his career high in saves with 37 with a 3.80 ERA and duplicating his 98 strikeout performance from the prior season.
Last year, Frieri did not pitch at any level of MLB. Frieri signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in that offseason, but he was released on April 5. He did play in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he gave up 2 runs in 1.2 innings pitched. According to Joe Girardi via CBS Sports New York, what caught the eye of the Yankees was Frieri’s solid work in his lone World Baseball Classic appearance for Team Colombia. For Team Colombia, Frieri pitched 2 scoreless innings against the potent offense of the Dominican Republic.
The minor league contract for Ernesto Frieri makes this a very low-risk move for the Yankees. Frieri will most likely be part of the MLB roster early in the season. His solid outing and workout was enough to convince the Yankees that he could help the franchise this season. Honestly, if Frieri can produce his mediocre numbers from his time with Tampa Bay, that would be perfect for his role. Frieri will simply be depth for the bullpen. His role would be to fill in on nights where Tyler Clippard is resting or to pitch an inning in a game that is out of hand.