The New York Yankees are in a conundrum. They’ve heavily invested in veteran players with hefty contracts, yet their outfield is struggling, and their infield hasn’t been much better.
One of their key investments, Josh Donaldson, acquired from the Minnesota Twins, hasn’t lived up to expectations.
The Josh Donaldson Conundrum
At 37, Donaldson endured his worst professional season in 2022, hitting a meager .222 with a .308 OBP, 15 homers, 62 RBIs, and a career-high 27.1% strikeout rate. An early hamstring injury in 2023 has limited him to just 15 games, where he’s managed a disappointing .130 average with a .212 OBP, a 30.8% strikeout rate, and five homers across 52 at-bats.
While it’s still early in the season, the veteran third baseman appears to be continuing his downward trend. If this pattern persists, the Yankees may need to reconsider their infield strategy.
The Potential Solution: Oswald Peraza
If a change is necessary, Oswald Peraza, a productive prospect, presents a compelling alternative. Despite being only 23, Peraza has demonstrated a strong defensive game in his 30 MLB appearances and boasts versatility across several infield positions.
His performance in Triple-A this season has been stellar, hitting .306 with a .377 OBP, including 10 homers and 22 RBIs over 29 games. Despite Peraza’s readiness for the majors, the Yankees have hesitated to give him more opportunities. Instead, he could become a valuable trade asset come the deadline.
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Rethinking the Yankees’ Strategy
In an ideal situation, Donaldson would be worth every penny of his $25 million contract in his final year. But reality paints a different picture, with the third baseman underperforming significantly.
Even Mike Francesa had some tough words for the Yankees’ instance on Donaldson playing:
“They’ll do that every single time,” Francesa said. “Donaldson shouldn’t be in the lineup, no less batting third. But it tells you where this team is right now.”
Without the backing of superstar slugger Aaron Judge, the Yankees are in dire need of their players stepping up. Yet, they’ve scored more than four runs only once in their last six games.
This month, Donaldson is hitting a meager .133 with a .229 OBP. If his batting woes continue, the Yankees will have to reconsider his daily starting opportunities.
The question remains, who will replace Donaldson if his performance doesn’t improve, especially with DJ LeMahieu also underperforming this season? The Yankees need to make a tough call, and fast.