The New York Yankees have already announced that veteran infielder DJ LeMahieu will transition from his regular utility role to the starting third base position in 2024. LeMahieu has been a regular supplementary option for the Yankees the past few years, but Aaron Boone believes he’s ready to lock down the hot corner full-time.
Last season, LeMahieu struggled offensively but turned things around post-All-Star break, suggesting he could be in line for a big bounce-back season.
Defensively, DJ played 592.2 innings at third base, hosting a .994 fielding percentage with three defensive runs saved and three outs above average. The Yankees can trust him at one of their toughest defensive alignments, but that leaves an open-ended question for Oswald Peraza, a young prospect looking to make an impact in 2024.
Peraza is still trying to determine his offensive identity at 23 years old. He’s out of minor-league options, and the Yankees need to utilize him as a regular player in their equation. He played 52 games last year in the MLB, hitting .191/.267/.272. He also added two homers, 14 RBIs, a 26.2% strikeout rate, a 6.8% walk rate, and 53 wRC+. He was a below-average offensive player, but the Yankees are still keen on him improving his swing decisions and making better contact. He posted a 28.5% hard-hit rate, 4.1% barrel rate, and 87.2 average exit velocity, certainly suggesting that improvements are needed.
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The Yankees Need Peraza’s Glove
The primary benefit is that he is a Gold Glove defender at most infield spots. He will likely transition into LeMahieu’s former role, taking over at third base when DJ has moved over to first to supplement any potential loss. Last season, Peraza played the majority of his defensive innings at third base, posting a .964 fielding percentage with breakeven advanced stats. He has the capacity to play second base at a high level and shortstop, but Anthony Volpe has locked down that position full-time.
Managing owner Hal Steinbrenner has already indicated that he prefers to see Peraza as a part of their future plans, and it seems as if the Yankees are incorporating him. They’ve been resistant at times to give him consistent at-bats and opportunities, but they need his services now, and the last piece of the puzzle is figuring out his offensive upside.