After missing out on Freddie Freeman late Tuesday night, the New York Yankees went with their backup option, Anthony Rizzo at first base. It seems as if the 2022 starting infield is all but set. There is one remaining question, where is Gleyber Torres going to play?
If not for DJ LeMahieu signing a big contract extension last off-season, Torres would be slotted in at second base. LeMahieu could’ve started at first, leaving Torres at second, but the Yankees now have a big decision to make.
The Bombers may float the idea of trading Torres instead of trying to work around where he will feature this upcoming season unless they don’t plan on Josh Donaldson starting at third base, which would be incredibly foolish given the two years $50 million left on his contract.
Yankees starting infield for the 2022 season:
1B: Anthony Rizzo
Most would agree that Rizzo is a solid player that will hold down the fort at first for the next two seasons. On Tuesday, he signed a two-year, $32 million deal with the Yankees after hitting .249 with eight homers and 21 RBIs over 49 games last season. As a solid defender and good hitter, Rizzo could realistically hit 30+ homers at Yankee Stadium, but at 32 years old, we’ll have to wait and see if age begins to take its toll.
2B: DJ LeMahieu/Gleyber Torres
Yankees currently have a pair of players at second base, LeMahieu, and Torres. Given DJ’s impeccable defensive acumen, that would suggest that Torres will be left off the starting team, which could indicate he’s used in a prospective trade this off-season.
Last year, Torres was moved from shortstop due to his poor defense, recording a .952 fielding percentage. Torres has a career .971 fielding percentage at second base, whereas LeMahieu features a .991 percentage. This is an easy decision for the Yankees regarding who will start, the more difficult one revolves around Torres and his value.
SS: Isiah Kiner-Falefa
The Yankees were clearly hyper-focused on acquiring Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who was traded to the Minnesota Twins before making his way to the Bronx. Falefa has already indicated he’s been a Yankees fan his entire life, and after hitting .271 and posting fantastic defensive metrics during the 2021 season, he’s precisely what the Bombers were looking for in terms of a stopgap.
The Yankees will have two years of team control over Falefa before he hits free agency in 2024. That gives the team plenty of time to develop Anthony Volpe and prepare him for the big leagues.
3B: Josh Donaldson
General manager Brian Cashman was forced to take on the contract of Josh Donaldson in the acquisition of Kiner-Falefa. A sizable amount, Donaldson has two years and $50 million left on his contract. As a primary slugger who hit 41 homers back in 2015, Donaldson fits the mold for the Yankees in the batter’s box. Last season, he smashed 26 homers and recorded a .247 average. Just two years ago with Atlanta, Donaldson hit 37 homers and 94 RBIs, posting a 15.2% walk rate to go with it.
At 36 years old, Donaldson is undoubtedly getting up there in age, which could impact his athleticism, but he can hold down the fort at third base in the meantime. Donaldson featured in 92 games last year at third, recording a .952 fielding percentage. That could be a justification for the retention of Torres since LeMahieu could shift over to the hot corner and supplement deficiencies if need be.