The New York Yankees continue to bank on veteran infielder Josh Donaldson, believing he’s still capable of delivering above-average offensive metrics.
However, the reality seems to point in a different direction: Donaldson’s productivity has seen a steep drop-off this season, and he hasn’t been truly influential since 2021.
Evaluating Donaldson’s Track Record
Though Donaldson’s performance over 18 games this season isn’t a comprehensive sample size, it’s important to review his 2022 metrics. During that year, Donaldson played 132 games which serve as a more substantial base for assessing his offensive value.
Manager Aaron Boone and General Manager Brian Cashman seem inclined to offer Donaldson more opportunities to recapture his previous form. This strategy might be overly optimistic given that Donaldson posted a .222 batting average with a .308 OBP, 15 homers, and 62 RBIs last season. It’s noteworthy that he recorded a career-high 27.1% strikeout rate and fell below a double-digit walk rate for the first time since 2012.
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Is It Time for a Roster Change?
Persisting with Donaldson could potentially be seen as imprudent, especially when they have the promising infielder Oswald Peraza waiting in the wings at Triple-A. There are suggestions that the Yankees are keeping Peraza as a trade option at the deadline. The critical question here is whether Cashman will find a player worth trading for and if selling Peraza at this stage is the right move.
Peraza, a 23-year-old with Gold Glove potential, has shown considerable improvement in his offensive game in recent weeks. In 34 games at Triple-A, he has posted a .292 batting average with a .360 OBP, alongside 11 homers, 24 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases.
Despite these encouraging numbers, Cashman indicated on Tuesday, before the team’s game against the Seattle Mariners, that Peraza still needs more developmental time.
Evaluating the Current Line-Up
This stance seems counterintuitive, particularly considering Anthony Volpe’s underperformance at shortstop. Volpe’s struggles have been prominent, as he has had difficulty putting the ball in play. Conversely, Peraza has recorded a hit in six of his last seven games with Scranton, implying he may be ready to step up and help the Yankees win games.
The Yankees have been managing to win games with just three runs, a pace that recently saw them embark on a four-game losing streak. The team has scored more than four runs only three times since Aaron Judge’s injury-induced absence. These numbers should arguably be a catalyst for change and testing different player alignments rather than persisting with underperforming players.
However, with Donaldson’s $21 million contract for this season, it seems Cashman is reluctant to remove him from the line-up entirely.
The Yankees recently faced a predicament when they cut Aaron Hicks, who is now hitting .340 with a .444 OBP for the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees will certainly want to avoid repeating such a mistake with their decision regarding Donaldson. Nonetheless, they also can’t sit idly by and watch him flail aimlessly in the batter’s box.