TAMPA, Fla. – The battle for the final spot on the New York Yankees’ roster is truly coming down to the wire. As Friday concludes, the club will enter its last day of spring camp with one roster spot still undecided.
Just hours after Dean Anna was told he had made the 25-man roster, Eduardo Nunez and Yangervis Solarte, the finalists for the final spot on the club’s bench, were both told not to pack their bags because a decision had not been made.
“Weird,” a visibly frustrated Nunez said after meeting with Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman. “Situation like that, it’s kind of weird, you know? You don’t know where you’re going on the last day of spring training. They said it’s still up the air. ...They say don’t pack, I don’t pack.”
The math should have been easy. The team has a full 40-man roster, and Nunez is on it, while Solarte is not. However, if the Yankees do not add Solarte to their active roster for Opening Day, they risk losing him permanently. Jorge Castillo of The Star-Ledger reported on Friday night that the if 26-year-old utilityman fails to make the Yankees out of camp, he can trigger an opt-out clause in order to accept a spot on another team’s active roster.
After he clearly outperformed Nunez by hitting .429 this spring, it seems likely that the Yankees would prefer to find a way to keep Solarte in the fold. As a switch hitter who can play throughout the infield and the corner outfield positions, Solarte would add a level of versatility to a roster that the Yankees have not had for some time now. By comparison, Nunez’s defense is passable at best in the infield and he hit just .265 this spring.
Not having all the answers at the end of spring training is not an unprecedented position for a player to be in. Luis Ayala found himself in the same position as Nunez and Solarte when he was with the Yankees in 2011, being left behind in Tampa, only to officially make the team a day after camp broke.
However, a normally mild-mannered Nunez could not keep his emotions contained after the meeting with Girardi and Cashman, and his bitter tone makes one wonder if he already knows his time as a Yankee is likely at a close.
"I never been in this situation before," a bewildered and upset Nunez told reporters. "What a f---ing life."
At a minimum, Nunez will know his fate by 3 P.M. ET Sunday afternoon, when teams are required to file their 25-man rosters ahead of Tuesday's Opening Day.