The Yankees pared down their roster Thursday, optioning three pitchers – Deivi Garcia, Mike King and Ben Heller – as well as infielder Thairo Estrada to the minors. The club sent Garcia to Double-A Trenton and the rest to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Garcia and King may be the most intriguing names in this quartet. It wasn’t long ago that both pitchers were competing for season-opening roles in the Yankees’ banged up rotation. But if the coronavirus does delay Opening Day until June or later, injured left-hander James Paxton figures to begin the year in the Yankees’ starting staff. That would give them a complete five-man rotation with Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ and Jordan Montgomery complementing Gerrit Cole.
While Garcia and King aren’t ticketed for season-opening roles in New York, the pair could find themselves in the majors soon enough. The two undoubtedly count among the Yankees’ best farmhands, with Baseball America ranking the 20-year-old Garcia as their No. 3 prospect and placing King, 24, at No. 13.
Estrada, also 24, made his MLB debut in 2019 and batted .250/.294/.438 with three home runs in 69 plate appearances. He played both middle infield positions and both corner outfield spots during that brief stint.
Heller, whom the Yankees acquired from the Indians in the teams’ 2016 trade centering on Andrew Miller, has totaled just 25 1/3 major league innings thus far. He underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2018, thereby sidelining the 28-year-old for all of that season and for the majority of last year.