Over the years, the New York Yankees have consistently sought to maintain a competitive edge in Major League Baseball, assembling a roster that features a blend of seasoned veterans and young prospects.
As the sport evolves, the team must adapt and make strategic decisions that bolster its long-term success. This brings us to the current dilemma facing the Yankees: choosing between veteran Josh Donaldson and rising star Oswald Peraza for the starting third base position. In this article, we will examine the reasons why it is time for the Yankees to pass the torch to Peraza and move on from Donaldson as their starting third baseman.
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Why it’s time for the Yankees to turn the page on Josh Donaldson:
I. Age and Athleticism
One of the most evident factors in this decision is the age difference between the two players. At 37 years old, Josh Donaldson is entering the twilight of his career. While he was once an MVP-caliber player known for his power, defense, and leadership, Father Time has begun to catch up with him. Injuries and declining performance have become more frequent, causing concern about his ability to contribute consistently at a high level.
On the other hand, Oswald Peraza is a fresh face at just 22 years old. Bursting with potential, Peraza boasts exceptional athleticism, which translates into superior range and agility on defense. As the Yankees look towards the future, it is essential to prioritize youth and athleticism, allowing the team to remain competitive in an increasingly fast-paced league. The Yankees would inject much-needed youth and energy into their lineup by starting Peraza over Donaldson.
Statistically, Donaldson is regressing and is coming off his worst performance as a professional. In 2022, he posted a .222 BA and .308 OBP, slapping 15 homers but displaying awful chase rate numbers and swing decisions. On the other hand, Peraza has gotten off to a hot start after being promoted several days ago. He’s currently hitting .250 with a .438 OBP, solid numbers that showcase his patience at the plate and immediate impact with Donaldson working his way back from a hamstring injury.
According to manager Aaron Boone, Donaldson has a Grade 1 plus strain, knocking him out for a few weeks, at the very least.
“I don’t think it’s a setback. He didn’t pull it or have to come out of the game,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters this past week. “But I don’t think it was all the way where it needs to be.”
II. Defensive Prowess
While Josh Donaldson has been recognized for his defensive abilities throughout his career, winning a Gold Glove award in 2015, his recent performance has shown signs of decline. Age and injuries have hampered his range and quickness, resulting in a diminished ability to make difficult plays at the hot corner. His primary strength is his defensive quality on the hot corner, but the Yankees have great defensive players at the ready, notably Peraza and DJ LeMahieu.
In contrast, Oswald Peraza has garnered attention for his exceptional defensive skills. With quick reflexes and a strong arm, Peraza has the tools necessary to excel at third base. Furthermore, his versatility as a natural shortstop allows him to cover more ground, providing the Yankees with a significant defensive upgrade. By giving Peraza the starting nod, the Yankees would improve their overall defensive prowess, which is crucial in tight games and the postseason.
III. Offensive Upside
Although Josh Donaldson has been known for his power-hitting capabilities, his recent seasons have been marred by injuries and inconsistency at the plate. In particular, his strikeout rate has risen, and his ability to hit for average has waned, limiting his overall offensive production.
While not yet a proven commodity at the plate, Oswald Peraza has shown promise as a hitter. With a quick, compact swing and an improving approach at the plate, Peraza has demonstrated the ability to make consistent contact and drive the ball to all fields. Furthermore, his speed on the basepaths adds another dimension to his offensive game, providing the Yankees with a valuable asset that can impact games in various ways. While Peraza may not possess Donaldson’s power, his contact skills, speed, and growth potential make him an attractive option for the Yankees’ offense.
IV. Financial Considerations
Josh Donaldson’s current contract is another factor to consider in this decision. With a hefty salary attached to his name, the Yankees must evaluate whether Donaldson’s on-field production justifies the financial commitment. As his performance continues to decline, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify allocating significant resources to a player who cannot contribute consistently.
Conversely, Oswald Peraza is still on his rookie contract, providing the Yankees with a cheap long-term solution if they so desire. Ultimately, keeping costs down at important infield positions will allow the Yankees to end more aggressively elsewhere.