Latest On The Yankees’ Shortstop Battle
As a top view Anthony Volpe Remaining strongly in favor of winning the Yankees’ shortstop job this spring, SNY’s Andy Martino reports that the team isn’t close to making a decision on who will start there on opening day.
Volpe, fellow boy Oswald Peraza, Isiah Kiner-Falefaand to a lesser extent Oswaldo Cabrera were all in the mix for this spring’s shortstop job. The Yankees apparently favor Cabrera in a useful role and the starting midfielder’s injury Harrison Bader means he could be called upon for more outfield representatives early in the season, so it seems safe to sideline him from the starting job in the short term.
Kiner-Falefa was the starter for most of the 2022 season, but seems to be taking on more of a utilitarian role himself this season as the Yankees train him in infield and even give him outfield starts. He owed him $6 million in his final year of arbitration and was speculated as a possible trade candidate given the Yankees’ spate of midfielders. The Dodgers were one such team tossed around in the wake as a possible target Gavin Lux‘ injury, but it seems unlikely as New York Post’s Jon Heyman reports they’re not interested.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Kiner-Falefa is of no interest to the Dodgers. While a $6 million salary is affordable for a team like the Dodgers, it looks pretty high for a player who only scores for an 85 wRC+ (15 percentage points below the league average) and has a career wRC+ of 82. The team has also already made a stopover there Miguel Rojaswho doesn’t hit a ton, plays decent defense and owes $5 million in 2023, so it could be that acquiring Kiner-Falefa would just mean bringing on another player whose profile closely resembles his internal option.
In any case, Kiner-Falefa appears to be an underdog in shortstop, leaving it to Peraza and Volpe. Peraza, 22, is likely the favorite, having impressed in a short stint in the big leagues last year, hitting .306/.404/.429 in 57 plate appearances and starting in one playoff game. Martino’s account also describes how scouts generally preferred Peraza’s gauntlet to Volpe’s.
Still, excluding Volpe seems foolish. In the spring, he seemed like a candidate for a midseason call-up, but probably not an opening-day option. After all, he’s only played 22 games at Triple-A. However, the 21-year-old has impressed the team with his racquet, hitting .294/.415/.588 in Saturday’s games (and Volpe is back in the line-up, leading and playing shortstop today) and with the way he has broken away from Worn diamonds and earned the praise of a number of teammates.
With Opening Day now less than two weeks away, the countdown is on to see who’s short-handed when the Yankees host the Giants on March 30.