Projecting the Yankees’ starting infield for Opening Day

New York Yankees, gleyber torres
Feb 26, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Atlanta Braves outfielder Kevin Pillar (17) steals stone base as New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (25) attempted to tag him out at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Little by little, the New York Yankees Opening Day roster is taking shape. We already know some of the starters and relievers, the shortstop – Anthony Volpe beat Oswald Peraza for the gig in spring training – and most of the lineup.

Let’s focus on the infield, though. By now, we have a pretty good idea of what the Yankees are going to send against the San Francisco Giants in the first game of the year.

Anthony Rizzo will be starting at first base. He hasn’t had the best of springs – a .601 and a 2/11 BB/K ratio – but he should be counted on for 30 home runs, a healthy OBP, and probably some extra hits because of new shift restrictions. He should be an asset.

Across the infield, Josh Donaldson is leveraging some changes in his batting stance and timing mechanism to four spring homers and a .916 OPS. He was a below-average offensive third baseman last year for the Yankees – 97 wRC+ – but the adjustments he made open up the possibility of him being playable and actually a bit above-average in 2023. Hopefully, that’s the case since he is the projected starter at third.

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The Yankees have impressive infield depth

Volpe will be the starting shortstop after a scintillating performance in exhibition games. He slashed .314/.417/.647 with three home runs, five stolen bases, and a 1.064 OPS, so he got the job over Oswald Peraza. The latter has aced Triple-A and looked fine at the MLB level last year, but the former’s top prospect pedigree and spring breakout were too much to ignore.

Gleyber Torres’ name will likely be in the lineup, likely as a second baseman but possibly as a designated hitter. Given the overpopulation of infielders on the Yankees’ roster, he remains a top candidate to be traded at some point this year. If he is not, he remains a good defender at the keystone who is capable of hitting 25 homers per year. If he is not at second on Opening Day, then it could be DJ LeMahieu or Oswaldo Cabrera, but it should be Gleyber.

For depth, the Yankees have LeMahieu, Cabrera, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa in MLB, plus Peraza in Triple-A. The pitching staff might be short-handed at the moment, but nobody can tell the Bombers they don’t have enough talented infielders.