If Alex Rodriguez is suspended, the Yanks could open up a spot, but there's no definite timetable for when a ruling on his suspension will come. Even after that decision is announced, A-Rod could choose to file an injunction with judge overseeing his case, which would prolong the legal battle and could result in him taking the field with the club on Opening Day.
The team is also considered to be one of the frontrunners for Masahiro Tanaka. Signing him would almost certainly make them a better team for the 2014 season, but solving their "40-man crunch" would become even more troublesome by adding the Japanese ace to the roster.
In an attempt to lessen the blow of losing Robinson Cano, the Yanks took a rapid-fire approach to free agency, signing Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann to new deals over the span of a few weeks. Those players will be welcome additions to the team in terms of added value on the field, but New York's roster has become bloated as a result.
General manager Brian Cashman has been attempting to address the issue by shopping outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. He could decide to put Vernon Wells on the market as well, but rival teams aren't likely to surrender much for either player. Cashman could try to push left-handed reliever Cesar Cabral through waivers in an attempt to stash him in the minors. Cabral struggled in the high minors last season, so the Yankees might be able to quietly slip him through the process.
New York isn't likely to allow their overflowing 40-man roster stop them from trying to improve on a fourth-place AL East finish last season, but they might have to get creative after adding several players this winter.