There are four big stories in an offseason for the New York Yankees that has been filled with inaction. One is hardly a secret; the Yankees have put all moves to improve the team for the 2021 season while they wait out negotiations with second baseman and batting champ DJ LeMahieu. The team wants a contract for three years, and DJ wants the security of a five-year contract. Meanwhile, the Yankee’s need for pitching both starting and in the bullpen sits awaiting action. The Yankees have pretty well decided that Gary Sanchez will again be their starting catcher when they awarded him a contract for the season. But today, we talk about that fourth need, an upgrade at shortstop.
Like Sanchez, the Yankees seem to be going with Gleyber Torres again at shortstop. They feel he can bounce back from a subpar hitting season and return to form. However, on the defensive end, they are most hopeful he can improve. The reality is that the Yankees do not see Torres as their long term answer that Derek Jeter was. Torres just doesn’t get to the ball fast enough, and his throwing arm from short has not been as accurate as it needs to be.
The Yankees were very interested in obtaining Francisco Lindor, baseball’s best shortstop. However, with their desire to stay below the luxury tax threshold, they didn’t feel comfortable parting with too many assets in a trade; meanwhile, the crosstown New York Mets, flush with money from new owner Steve Cohen swooped up both Lindor and pitching veteran right-hander Carlos Carrasco. The Yankees still have an interest in Andrelton Simmon, also a highly rated shortstop. But here again, that acquisition likely won’t happen if the Yankees sign LeMahieu.
Although fans will probably not see a change at short this season, there is hope for the future. Sitting in the minors is one of the best up and coming shortstops out there. His name is Oswald Peraza. He could be the Yankee’s long-term solution for the shortstop of the future. MLB.com list Peraza as the New York Yankees number four prospect. But they also list him as their choice for the Yankees break out prospect in 2021.
The Yankees signed the then 17-year-old Venezualan after the 2016 season for $175K as an international free agent. He has worked his way up through the New York Yankee’s minor league system ending up in Charleston with the River Dogs in 2019. His pluses are that he is Tyler Wade fast on the basepaths, has good bat speed, and is an excellent defender at short with an accurate arm. He ended the 2019 season with two teams hitting .263 while stealing 23 bases in just 65 games. Now at age 20, he is still developing and getting stronger. He will likely spend the 2021 season with the Somerset Patriots, just a two-hour drive from Scranton Wilkes/Barre, where he will probably end up. The Yankees protected him from the Rule 5 draft this year, adding him to the 40 man roster.
There were no Minor League games due to COVID-19 in. However, Peraza played winter ball in Venezuela for the Cardenales de Lara. He played in six games, hitting .250 with a .713 OPS.
Peraza probably won’t see any action at Yankee Stadium during the 2021 season, but if he continues to advance like he has, he could have an impact during the 2022 season when he will still only be 22 years old. Scouts see Peraza’s hitting ability improve as he is seeing the ball better and not striking out as frequently. Make no mistake; he is still developing but could very well be an impact player for the Yankees for many years to come.