New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said a few weeks back that he wouldn't bring players up in September unless he felt they could help the team, and wouldn't add roster depth "just to do it."
However, as it stands right now, all 39 healthy players on the Yankees' 40-man roster are in the majors, and with Mark Teixeira now ruled out for the season with a fractured lower right leg, the organization could shift him to the 60-day disabled list and open a spot for a new 40thplayer.
The Yankees have a history of mid-to-late-September adds if need arises - see Jose Pirela and Eury Perez just last season - and with 17 games to go and a 3-game deficit in the AL East to overcome, Joe Girardi would likely love all the firepower he can get.
So, that noted, who might fit the bill as a player that could "help New York" if added to the 40-man roster? Given a mix of need, roster status, and minor-league performance, the seven names below are ones that could provide some benefit to the Yankees, for the next three weeks and beyond.
RHP KYLE DAVIES: With Nathan Eovaldi in the midst of a shutdown, CC Sabathia just back off the DL, and three of the Yankees' four weekend starters coming off starts of
Adam Warren is in the midst of a re-stretch into a starter, but Davies, who signed a minor-league deal last winter, could be another option as a spot starter or innings-eating righty. The 32-year-old went 11-8 with a 3.60 ERA in 27 Triple-A outings (and threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings in his lone MLB appearance back in April), and after going eight strong innings in his Triple-A playoff start on Friday, he could be ready to go for as long as needed as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday.
RHP MARK MONTGOMERY: Once thought of as potentially "the next David Robertson," Montgomery was drafted in 2011 and reached Double-A by the end of 2012, but injuries and inconsistency kept him from becoming a major-league option…until, perhaps, now.
This year, Montgomery took another step forward, pitching to a 2.93 ERA with 16 saves in Trenton and then posting a 1.17 ERA in seven Triple-A outings. He is once again Rule 5 eligible this winter, and the Yankees might have to put him on the 40-man roster if they want to hold on to him.
RHP JOHNNY BARBATO: Acquired from San Diego for Shawn Kelley last winter, Barbato's 4.04 ERA in 42 2/3 innings at Trenton doesn't look strong on paper - but when you see that he went 4-0 with a 0.36 ERA and three saves in 25 Triple-A innings, his overall line (6-2, 2.67, 3 SV, 70 K/25 BB in 67 1/3 IP over 40 games) becomes much more eye-popping.
He was ineffective during SWB's quick postseason run (and allowed four runs in just one-third of an inning in the game that bounced the RailRiders), but Barbato showed he belonged at that level, and with his own Rule 5 eligibility beginning this winter, the Yankees could end up with nothing more than a season of salary relief from Kelley's contract if he's not added to the 40-man roster - so why not now?
OF BEN GAMEL: It may seem that Gamel's skill set is too similar to that of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Slade Heathcott (and the injured Mason Williams) to warrant consideration, but Gamel had too good of a season in Triple-A not to; this season Gamel hit .300, set career highs with 10 homers, 64 RBI, and 150 hits, and stole 13 bases en route to being named the International League Rookie of the Year and a post-season All-Star.
That might normally be enough, but an even bigger reason to take a look might be Gamel's roster status. He was passed over despite being Rule 5 eligible, but it's less likely he would remain in the organization for a seventh season if he is exposed this winter - and with Heathcott and Williams both having lengthy injury histories, even just a winter of control of Gamel could benefit the Yankees in the long run.
1B KYLE ROLLER: Although Dustin Ackley played well on both sides of the ball this weekend in relief of Greg Bird, Teixeira's injury means the Yankees don't have a true backup first baseman. Roller is a lefty hitter, so his addition wouldn't be a platoon help, but he can mash - despite a downturn to a .232-14-59 line in Triple-A this season, he's just a year removed from a .300-26-74 breakout between Trenton and Scranton in 2014.
With Bird's emergence, Roller is third at best on the Yankees' depth chart when Teixeira is healthy, and while he's likely to go unchosen again in the Rule 5 draft, adding him now could give the Yankees a potent lefty bat down the stretch and would, at worst, ensure the Yankees another option at first and/or Triple-A depth in 2016.
IF COLE FIGUEROA/GREGORIO PETIT: We go with a pair to close here, because both are in the same boat; both were acquired as non-roster players prior to the season because they can play any infield position, both spent some time in the majors due to injury, and both were optioned and eventually outrighted off the 40-man roster.
Figueroa hit .292 in Triple-A and was 2-for-8 in a brief stint in the Bronx, while Petit was 7-for-42 in pinstripes and hit .230 as a RailRider, but if either or both has options remaining, then re-adding one of them now could give the Yankees the chance to hold onto some potential depth not only over the winter, but into 2016 as well.