Projecting the Yankees’ 2023 starting infield on Opening Day

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The New York Yankees have a position battle unfolding in the infield at this very moment. In fact, you can make the argument there are several ongoing with Anthony Volpe showcasing some of his talents across two spring training games.

There are big questions regarding Gleyber Torres’s future with the team, if Josh Donaldson can lock down the third base spot for the upcoming season, and if Oswald Peraza can hold onto the slight advantage he has at shortstop and run with it.

Over the next few weeks, things could change significantly, but the Yankees are keen on finding the right combination of infielders. Let’s take a look at who projects to win the battles right now.

Projecting the Yankees’ starting infield:

1B: Anthony Rizzo

Of course, Anthony Rizzo will start at first base. The 33-year-old veteran signed a two-year, $40 million extension this past off-season with a 2025 club option. Last year, he hit .224 with a .338 OBP, 32 homers, and 75 RBIs. With the shift being banned, Rizzo should be able to add a few ticks to his batting average and on-base percentage, which certainly shouldn’t go unnoticed.

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2B: Gleyber Torres

There has been plenty of rumors regarding Gleyber Torres and his future with the team. All arrows seem to point toward Torres eventually being traded in favor of Anthony Volpe being promoted. Torres is coming off a solid bounce-back 2022 season, hitting .257 with a .310 OBP, 24 homers, and 76 RBIs. This is the first time since 2019 Torres hit double-digit homers, so he finally resurrected his power.

The trade rumors and speculation don’t phase Torres, but even manager Aaron Boone wasn’t willing to commit to him on an everyday basis. The vague perspectives of management certainly indicate he could be on the block within the next few months, specifically before the summer trade deadline.

SS: Oswald Peraza

As stated above, Peraza is the projected starter for shortstop and holds a slight advantage in the position battle. The 22-year-old enjoyed just 18 regular season games of action with the Yankees last year, hitting .306 with a .404 OBP, one homer, and two RBIs. Given his stats were so impressive, the Yankees have high expectations despite those unrealistic numbers, given his Triple-A averages.

Even if Peraza struggles offensively to start his tenure in the MLB, he has gold glove caliber defense, which should smooth over the shortstop position for the time being.

3B: Josh Donaldson

Many prefer DJ LeMahieu to play third base over Josh Donaldson, but Boone continues to commit to the struggling veteran. At 37 years old, Donaldson hit .222 with a .308 OBP, 15 homers, and 62 RBIs last year. These were some of the worst metrics in his entire career as a hitter, so he’s looking to bounce back and return to his averages.

Donaldson’s Steamer projections have him hitting .226 with a .318 OBP, 14 homers, and 49 RBIs across 99 games. After putting together such a stout defensive performance during his first year with the Bombers, hoping for him to run that back may be optimistic. He tallied seven defensive runs saved above average and seven outs above average across 902.2 innings.

If he struggles offensively, I wouldn’t be surprised to see DJ take over full-time or even Isiah Kiner-Falefa get some opportunities. However, several players in this unit could end up being traded this upcoming year, with Torres and IKF being the primary suspects.

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