The Yankees have a big decision to make at second base

new york yankees, oswald peraza
Sep 7, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Oswald Peraza (91) reacts to hitting a double against the Minnesota Twins during the third inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

One way or another, the New York Yankees will need to make a big decision at second base unless they plan on transitioning Oswald Peraza to the hot corner, which seems unlikely given his usage at the minor-league level. Peraza has never experienced a single inning playing third base, which is odd considering Anthony Volpe won the shortstop job outright and Josh Donaldson’s contract expires following the 2023 season, creating an opening at a vital spot.

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The Yankees have an answer at 3B already:

The Yankees feel more than comfortable utilizing DJ LeMahieu at third, where he posted 385.2 innings worth of work last year, enjoying a .992 fielding percentage with seven defensive runs saved and four outs above average. Across 90 innings to start this year, with Donaldson recovering from a hamstring injury, he has a perfect fielding percentage with one defensive run saved and two outs above average.

LeMahieu could easily be the team’s long-term solution at third base, but he is 34 years old and will eventually start to regress. Injuries have also been an issue for the veteran infielder, whose value has been utilized as a utility piece more than a cemented starter at a specific position.

Ultimately, next year’s free agent class is relatively weak, and after Manny Machado signed a massive extension with the San Diego Padres, the Yankees don’t have many choices on the hot corner. They could look to one of their young prospects, potentially Trey Sweeney, who is a lefty hitter and provides stellar defensive qualities, or they could begin transitioning Peraza now.

The more likely scenario is that Peraza either takes over at second base or is traded this year at the deadline. However, we can’t talk about the second base position without mentioning Gleyber Torres, who has been part of many rumors over the past few months.

The Yankees are getting solid production from Gleyber Torres:

Torres is off to a hot start in 2023, hitting .250 with a .395 OBP, slapping two homers with seven RBIs, and stealing five bases. He currently hosts a 136 wRC+, the highest in his career, but with Peraza playing at second base the past few days and Gleyber featuring as the team’s designated hitter, it certainly poses a debate.

If the Yankees aren’t keen on moving Peraza to the hot corner, he will either take over at second base or Torres will remain and land an extension. Gleyber will be a free agent in 2025, but he’s already earning $10 million per season to avoid arbitration. With that being the case, the Yankees could cut costs and save the $10 million by simply utilizing Peraza, who barely has any service time accrued and only one minor-league option left.

It is tough to tell what general manager Brian Cashman is thinking, but for now, both will play an essential role with injuries mounting. Donaldson is still out, and after Giancarlo Stanton‘s injury, the Yankees needed a new DH, which Torres has filled. Given his power, the team also signed veteran lefty Kole Calhoun on Thursday, who could be called up and utilized in that spot. Cashman has been trying to find the new Matt Carpenter this year, but that is easier said than done, granted his extravagant production over such a small sample size in 2022.

Many are against the idea of trading Torres since he’s considered an above-average second baseman and one of the team’s better hitters. He’s also proven to be a solid defensive piece, which was one of his vulnerabilities when the Yankees were testing him at shortstop.

There’s no question he has plenty of value as a trade asset, but the Yankees are worse without him unless they find a reasonable deal that adds substantial value to the team. For now, expect Peraza and Gleyber to be regulars in the line-up, but at some point, Cashman will have to decide on the future at second base.