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  • E.J. Fagan

How to Fit Both Volpe and Peraza

by EJ Fagan

March 25, 2023

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NOTE: The following comes from EJ Fagan's substack page and is shared with permission.

Please check out EJ's substack page for more great articles.

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I think Anthony Volpe is going to make the team. If he does, the Yankees are in a tough spot with Oswald Peraza. If Volpe didn’t exist, we would be ecstatic to see Peraza in pinstripes. He’s 23 years old, an elite defensive shortstop who has conquered Triple-A and had a cup of coffee in the majors. He deserves a spot just as much as Volpe. But how do you make it happen?

Here are the moves I would make today if I were Brian Cashman

Release Josh Donaldson, IKF to the Bench

Donaldson can still play major league ball and the Yankees owe him $29 million. However, they are better off without Donaldson. His salary is a sunk cost. Bite the bullet and cut your worst infielder.


Unlike Donaldson, Kiner-Falefa has a lot of value as a bench player. Sure, he’s expensive, but I suspect he would be traded by now if teams thought he could play shortstop every day. The best Yankee teams in my lifetime all featured strong benches, not players like Marwin Gonzalez and Tim Locastro.


Trade Gleyber Torres for Seth Brown

Gleyber Torres is a good major league player. He’s a career above-average hitter with a wRC+ of 117. As an average-ish defensive second baseman, his hitting plays well enough to hold down a spot on a playoff team. However, I think Anthony Volpe is probably a better second basemen in 2023 than Torres, potentially much better.


Unlike Donaldson and Kiner-Falefa, Torres has some trade value. The Yankees might be better off without him, but they shouldn’t give Torres up for nothing. They have an obvious need in the outfield, preferably from the left side. They could also use some depth pitching given all the injuries.


I think the Yankees should find some way to acquire Seth Brown for Torres. Brown is a left-handed hitter who should be strictly platooned (129 wRC+ vs. righties, 60 wRC+ vs. lefties). He’s a decent corner outfielder, with Hicks-tier speed but poor arm strength. He’s a pull hitter who should benefit from both Yankee Stadium and the new shift rules. He can even play first base in an emergency, if poorly. He would make a great platoon partner with Oswaldo Cabrera or Giancarlo Stanton. Basically, Brown is a better Rafael Ortega.


As a starting middle infielder, Torres is clearly more valuable than Brown. Maybe the Yankees can find some pitching depth in a Seth Brown trade. However, I’d even do the trade 1:1, probably as part of a three-team deal. The Yankees are better off Volpe starting at second and Brown in a platoon role than with Volpe in the minors, Torres at second and Ortega in the outfield every day while Bader is out. Once the Yankee outfield is healthy, Brown can compete with Hicks for playing time.


The Yankees Need to Bet Big

It would be easy for the Yankees to send down Volpe, keep Donaldson and maybe find a buyer for Isaiah Kiner-Falefa. They are a naturally cautious team. Donaldson is still an effective, if diminished, major league player. Torres is an above-average major leaguer. Volpe doesn’t have a lot of time at Triple-A. This same roster brought them to the ALCS in 2022. They will have improved in center after Harrison Bader returns, and at shortstop with Peraza. That roster almost always makes the playoffs, and usually wins the division. If they get hit with the injury bug, they have a full layer of depth to cover.


But I don’t think it wins a World Series. Aaron Judge is probably going to follow-up the best season of all time. While some of the old veterans may bounce back, on average the group will probably show its age. The window isn’t closed, but it isn’t wide open either.


But what if Volpe and Peraza are really good? Let’s say the Yankees take a risk and bet on the young guys, and the bet pays off. Both are Rookie of the Year contenders. Peraza hits something like a .320 wOBA with great defense. Volpe proves to be the star he looks like, posting a .360 wOBA, leading off with lots of stolen bases and strong defense at second. That team can win the 2023 World Series, and contend with up-and-coming teams like Baltimore, Seattle and Toronto deep into Aaron Judge’s decline years.


It’s a risky move. One or both of them could disappoint. An injury could push Kiner-Falefa or Cabrera into a full-time infield role. Torres could finally have that breakout season that we’ve all been waiting for. Donaldson could rebound. Risk is necessary for reward. I would forgive the Yankees if the risk doesn’t work well. I wouldn’t forgive them if they waste Aaron Judge’s peak years by supporting him with another mediocre cast of veterans. Sometimes you have to swing for the fences.


7 commentaires


etbkarate
26 mars 2023

As joel sherman states in today's post "Yankees assembled brittleness and lack of depth, and — shocking — are enduring brittleness and lack of depth." Couldn't have said it better. But, they have the "best GM in NY sports". It's ridiculous. Exactly what I expected. Year after year, its a hodgepodge of reclamation projects. Taillion Kluber all over again. Haap Paxton all over again. I can go on and on. Its how they build a staff.

J'aime
Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
26 mars 2023
En réponse à

Taillon was a 100 ERA+, 3.5 WAR pitcher over two years. Kluber 112 ERA+, 1.4 WAR in 16 starts (a half season), plus a no-hitter. J.A. Happ 105 ERA+, 4.4 WAR over 3 years. Paxton 107 ERA+, 2.0 WAR over two years. All good back-end rotation guys, though in Kluber's and Paxton's cases, fragile.


Look, I agree the Yankees should have gone in on Verlander. You remember him, right? The guy who missed 2021 and nearly all of the short 2020 seasons with Tommy John surgery?

J'aime

lenjack
26 mars 2023

Agreed. However, Cashman does not have the balls to release Donaldson, as it would admit it was an awful mistake to sign him.

J'aime

fuster
25 mars 2023

Volpe again looking really good at the plate today

with two hits in two ABs.


gonna be hard to send him down.


be a good idea to trade one of the middle infielders,

preferably for a lefty hitter nearly as good as Judge

or a pitcher nearly as good as Cole.


J'aime
fuster
25 mars 2023
En réponse à

also prefer a starter


but I think a great deal of that ace starting pitcher


who is also a really good lefty hitter


----


absent that ideal pick-up.


it's a starter fersure


and let LF wait for the Pirates to realize that they have to deal Reynolds

and/or wait for Dominguez

J'aime

jjw49
25 mars 2023

I believe given you didn't write this knowing Severino is going on IL your approach is conservative but I understand. However I am not of the belief like many others that Yankees have solid SP and I'm less of a believer today. This staff will not be able to hold up for the entire year. It will be a problem all year. Torres should be traded for SP not a LF unless its Reynolds. So Cashman should look to Brewers and try to go for it all and acquire Burnes. Don't know what a package would look like but he's unhappy in Milwaukee and he would make Yankees a serious contender. Pitching wins in playoffs and right now Yankees don'…

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