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The Tuesday Discussion: Third Base?

December 12, 2023


This week we presented the following to our writers:

As it stands today, the Yankees are penciling in D.J. LeMahieu as the starting third baseman for 2023. Is this a good plan? If you were the General Manager, how would you address third base in 2024?

Here are their responses:


Lincoln Mitchell - The Yankees do not have a lot of good internal options at third base. Neither DJ LeMahieu or Oswald Peraza are likely to hit enough to be valuable big league third baseman in 2023. With no other internal options and no obvious free agent solutions, the way the Yankees should address this is by upgrading at DH, first base or center field. Those are positions where it is easier to add value. A de facto Verdugo/Grisham platoon for the third outfield spot is an upgrade from last year, but not enough. Similarly hoping for guys like Cortes, Rizzo and Rodon to get healthy is not a strategy. The Soto trade was an excellent first move, but the Yankees need to add probably two more impact players. If they sign Yamamoto, that will be another good sign.


Paul Semendinger - I don't think D.J. LeMahieu is an everyday player. He's never played third base for a full season. And, he is not young. Oswald Peraza has also never been a third baseman. The Yankees need to address third base.

I looked at the worst teams from last year and tried to see if any had a third baseman they might be willing to trade who the Yankees would want and who wasn't making a gazillion dollars (like Nolan Arenado). I found one possibility that way.

I also looked at the free agents, and I found two players who might fit.

My (long shot) trade possibility is Ke'Bryan Hayes of the Pirates. I think the Pirates plan to build around him. Hayes is signed long-term, reasonably, BUT... I have to wonder if the Pirates would be interested in a trade. I wrote this a few days ago and wondered if a Trey Sweeney and Oswald Peraza package could get it done. Sweeney has since been traded. (There went that idea.) Would the Yankees be willing to trade Roderick Arias for Hayes? Can they flip Jorbit Vivas along with a prospect for him?

The more reasonable solution is a reunion through free agency. The player who makes the most sense is Gio Urshela. If the Yankees could get him for 2 years/$12 million that would be a good deal.

The player that makes a little less sense... because the fan reaction would be some level of exasperation and outrage is a former Gold Glove third baseman named... (oh my, I can't believe I'm saying this...) Isiah Kiner-Falefa. IKF and DJ LeMahieu (along with Oswald Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera) could cover the position well enough. It's not ideal, at all, but it makes more sense than I wish it did. (There is a big difference between having IKF as a role player in 2024 than having him as the starting shortstop (2022) or as a regular outfielder in 2023.)

If the Yankees got Hayes, they'd be set at third for years and years.

My preferences in order:

  1. Hayes

  2. Urshela

  3. IKF

  4. The staus quo


James Vlietstra - Third base is not his best position, but defensively he’s solid no matter where he plays. He showed some signs that his bat was back. With 3 years remaining on his contract, they’d better hope so. 

When they originally signed him 5 years ago, it was to be as a super utility player. I’d like to see him used like that. Peraza as the everyday third baseman, Volpe, Torres, and Rizzo respectively from shortstop, second base and first base. 

Each week, LeMahieu could still play 5/7 games. Rizzo get two days off to try to keep him healthy and the other three get one day off each with Peraza sliding into shortstop once a week. A solid rotation should keep the offense fresh. 

With three new outfielders, Cabrera may return to his infield roots too. 


Derek McAdam - While it may not be the most ideal scenario, LeMahieu should be starting every day, and third base currently seems like the right move. If Gleyber Torres wasn’t a good hitter, this may be a much easier decision for the Yankees to make, but they want Torres’ bat in the lineup, as they should. 

Oswald Peraza has been waiting for his shot to play every day, but if there’s anything the Yankees have learned over the years, it’s that you can’t have too much depth. Injuries will occur over the course and the season, and Peraza will likely have his shot at some point. He will likely still see good playing time this season. 


Ed Botti - DJ was never intended to be the starting third baseman, he was signed as a super utility player. The fact that he is being considered the starting third baseman (he will be 36 in July) lends itself to the fact that they never really addressed third base. If they had, they never would have acquired a washed up Donaldson and just put DJ at third 2 years ago. He will play the position fine, but run the risk of being injured and of course, not being able to fill in at 2nd, 1st and 3rd (the reason he was signed to start with).


I am not in the Peraza or Cabrera camps.


If they are indeed going for it in 2024, they need to get an everyday third baseman.


I would address this situation by getting Gio back to play third base. Last season in 228 plate appearances he hit .299 and in 2022 he hit .285 in 551 plate appearences; we all know how his glove plays. He would be a good fit for the next season or 2 until a permanent 3rd baseman is acquired (more on that after this season--- but look to the far east for a stud third baseman who may just post in 2024/2025).


Gio is still only 32 years old.


He was never a problem, played hard and delivered. I think many of us were shocked and dismayed when they dealt him with Sanchez in 2022. I would have kept him.


Tim Kabel - At this point, my plan would be to have Oswald Peraza attempt to win the position in spring training. I would allow Oswaldo Cabrera to have a crack at it too and I would also take a look at Jorbit Vivas, who I would have play exclusively at third base in AAA. 


Cary Greene - Given the current priorities, which very clearly center on bolstering the front end of the starting rotation and then adding both left-handed bullpen help and perhaps even securing a closer and high leverage bridge reliever, I think that the Yankees need to keep their focus where it rightfully and presently is -- on pitching. 

Brian Cashman is working the top of the market as usual and he's presently engaging with Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who will command a very hefty sum if Cashman wins the bidding. Personally, I'm in favor of signing Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery both as I think the Yankees would be better off in the long run with the left-handedness and also, because I think the Yankees need a more dependable plan involving signing two proven starters opposed to rolling the dice on Yamamoto. I also want no part of a Frankie Montas reunion as I'm not convinced the guy can handle pitching in New York and I also don't think he's a good fit with the Yankees at this time. 

Folks think Snell walks too many batters, but he's exceptional in all other areas and the bottom line is that opposing batters can do little with his stuff and he knows it, which is why he nibbles so much on the corners to begin with as he's always expanding the zone. I'm also fine with a starter that can consistently make it into and/or through the fifth inning because, with a sufficiently dominant bullpen, it shouldn't be difficult to convert a quality start into a "W." 

This brings me to the idea of DJ LeMahieu playing third base. Defensively there should be zero questions regarding his ability to man the hot corner. With Matt Chapman representing the best available free agent upgrade at the position and that all current projections are predicting a very modest bounce back year for LeMahieu (2.2 fWAR/106 wRC+), I'm not sure it would be wise for Cashman to allocate a hefty sum to Chapman at this time, who is getting projections for a 2.7 fWAR/103 wRC+ campaign. 

I've written previously regarding LeMahieu's future outlook that I think he's very clearly in decline and that he most likely has only two more productive seasons in his future and I base my opinion largely on his PECOTA Player Comps. Therefore, given the current needs of the Yankees, I think it's pretty much a no-brainer that they're rolling with LeMahieu as the de facto third baseman for the time being.

Also in the mix are Oswald Peraza and perhaps Oswaldo Cabrera as well, so should LeMahieu get injured or begin to succumb early to the age related decline that I believe is his biggest challenge going forward, it's not like it would be an emergency if the Yankees had to cover the position with someone other than LeMahieu. There's also the hope that LeMahieu can really recover and get back to being the kind of hitter who hits for average and who generates a strong on base percentage due to him having good contact skills and strong strike zone recognition. 


22 comentários

12 de dez. de 2023

Is Matt Chapman unavailable?

12 de dez. de 2023
Respondendo a

He's a perfect fit = exactly like so many we already have. /s


12 de dez. de 2023

No good options.

Don’t see JDL holding up for a full season at 3rd. Have to question that slight rebound at his age and lack of athleticism. Imo, a slight regression is more likely.

Peraza and Cabrera don’t appear to have the stick to be the everyday 3B.

I think you can forget a trade with the Pirates. Their top players are locked up on team friendly deals and they are looking to spend more this year. If they did make a significant trade, they are looking for established quality starting pitching. Enough said.

Chapman? Fuggedaboudit! Goes double for IKF. Don’t even believe someone would consider that!

Best of the bad options? A Gio reunion might be best.

It was…


12 de dez. de 2023

I believe the Yankees roll with DJLM at 3rd and provide Peraza an opportunity to win the job in the spring. They can carry the diminished offensive production of LaMahieu this year.


12 de dez. de 2023

The Reds just signed 3rd baseman Jeimier Candelario, even though they already had a surplus of infielders. 3rd baseman Noelvi Marte hit .316 in 34 games at the MLB level for the Reds last year. I would really hate to give up more pitching, but I also really want to win this year while the window is open. Marte would be cheap and under control for at least the next 6 years. As the Red's #1 prospect, he would be expensive in prospect cost. Worth a Cashman inquiry at least, even if not likely.


12 de dez. de 2023

My (long shot) trade possibility is Ke'Bryan Hayes of the Pirates.

a good thought, but the Yankees might be better positioned to get the Pirates to give up Oneil Cruz, who might make a dandy corner infielder

I would expect the Pirates to be a bit leery of dealing with the Yankees, and would expect them to accept no less than





Yoendrys Gomez

13 de dez. de 2023
Respondendo a

no, Paul, it wasn't bad. not at all.

Volpe delivered decent defense, decent power and a knack for swiping bags.

he failed to get on base ..... in his rookie season.

20 HRs and 20 steals aint AT ALL bad for a rookie shortstop.

and I would not bet against Volpe entering season 2 with an adjusted plate approach

and a different OBP

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