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  • E.J. Fagan

The Yankees Are Short an Infielder

by EJ Fagan

March 11, 2024


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.


If nothing changes, Oswaldo Cabrera is going to start the season as the Yankees lead backup infielder. How often do you expect him to play?

DJ LeMahieu is 35 years old. He’s going to rest occasionally, at least once per week. Ditto for the 34 year-old Rizzo. LeMahieu is set to cover first when Rizzo is out. So, the Yankees are playing their backup infielder at least twice per week, or 65 games year.

That’s a lot! Especially since Peraza is injured and Cabrera is looking real bad this Spring, hitting .043. The Yankees can’t afford to give away 250 PAs this year, before anyone gets injured.

The in-house alternatives aren’t great. Peraza is out for awhile with a major shoulder injury. Kevin Smith, Josh VanMeter, Jahmai Jones and Jeter Downs are all in camp, but all look like the Quad-A players they are. Jorbit Vivas doesn’t look ready yet either.

I think the Yankees are due to add someone soon. We know they made offers to Kike Hernandez and Amed Rosario a few weeks ago. Let’s explore some options.

J.D. Davis

The Giants released J.D. Davis this week. At first, my instinct was that it was odd to release a solid MLB player at this point in Spring, but it turns out that the Giants aren’t going to have to pay most of his $7 million salary. Unless someone picks him up, Davis will be a free agent next week.

His profile is pretty compelling:

Davis is a career .261/.343/.432 hitter. He plays mostly 1b and 3b, although usually much worse than Statcast’s 90th percentile estimate last year. Davis should probably start at 3rd base somewhere, although his defense may push him to a starting DH.

The downside is that Davis is a true free agent. Unlike other released players, the Yankees are going to have to pay most of his salary next year. He may want to be paid like a starting third baseman. He may want playing time. There’s a reason why MLB starters usually don’t sign on to bench roles. But he would be a huge upgrade for the Yankees if they could sign him.

Donovan Solano

How is this guy still a free agent?

Solano is one of the better bench players in the league. He’s 36 years old. He’s hit .289/.355/.405 since 2020. He can fake it at 2nd and 3rd and play a pretty good 1st base. I can’t imagine his salary demands are all that high, as he’s been a comfortable bench player for a bit.

There’s got to be some off field reason why he isn’t signed yet, right? Come on Yankees, Solano makes too much sense.

The Field

Amed Rosario and Kike Hernandez have one big thing that Solano and Davis do not: speed. The Yankees are pretty slow right now. They might want someone to run or do small ball pinch hitting off the bench. They might also need someone who can play shortstop.

It’s not clear to me who the third option is. Hernandez and Rosario wanted playing time. A trade candidate wouldn’t have real say over the matter. But no clear trade candidates pop out. The Yankees have made late-Spring trades before, but nothing is rumored.

I’m concerned that the Yankees are going to start the season with Oswald Cabrera and someone like Kevin Smith on the roster. One of the big reason that they are going to be better in 2024 than 2023 is that they aren’t expecting to give away hundreds of plate appearances to a bunch of below replacement level hitters. But right now, they are one injury away from doing it again.

9 comentarios

Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
11 mar

There is another available free agent third baseman that was not mentioned in the article. Evan Longoria is available. At this stage of his career, he has indicated that he is willing to accept a "part time role" with a team he signs with. In 74 games last season, Longoria still managed to hit 11 homers, so he may be a viable backup to LeMaheui at 3rd and someone who can play third on days when LeMaheui is giving Anthony Rizzo a day off at 1st.

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11 mar

Back to the music thing. One of the best songs ever!

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Alan B.
Alan B.
11 mar

Does everyone realize that we are talking about a backup infielder who might start once a week, if everyone is healthy? As well, everyone is confident in Volpe being that much better offensively, but why not Cabrera? Cabrera just moves up to the PR/defensive replacement. Oh, in my opinion, Grisham, as the 4th OF, will play more than (i.e. Start) any backup infielder.

Spending $4M on a backup infielder is stupid for so many reasons considering they won't guarantee playing time, but in reality, under Cashman, if he pays a veteran, he will play said veteran no matter what. See Neil Walker, Chris Carter, Brian Roberts.

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11 mar

if nothing changes, Cabrera is the back-up for the 8 weeks that Peraza is "expected" to be absent.

of course, the idea that Cabrera will be replacing LeMahieu or Rizzo one game per week in those first 8 is probably incorrect.

in. the early going, the months of April and May, the team has a scheduled day off most every week

they are scheduled to play 7 or more consecutive days only twice during that time.

a day off each week is provided and fatigue not likely to set in during the early days of the season and Cabrera might be scheduled to serve as replacement starter only 4 times in that period.

if nothing changes

however, as Sam sang

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Alan B.
Alan B.
11 mar
Contestando a

With the new rules, the throwing arm is no longer a reason to move a guy out from behind the plate. He, Wells, seems to me from watching via the MiLB subscription and since his call up, to be decent at blocking the ball.

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