Yankees close to getting major infield reinforcement

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees‘ infield has been solid to open the 2024 season, but they still don’t have their regular starter at third base in DJ LeMahieu.

In the meantime, Oswaldo Cabrera has taken over full-time and put together a strong start. The 25-year-old was a bit polarizing during spring training, but he’s hitting .333/.375/.567, including two homers and seven RBIs over his first eight games. He hosts a 178 wRC+, but his numbers are fueled by a red-hot start to the season. He has three hits in his last four games, so Cabrera is starting to quiet down a bit, which was always expected.

Once LeMahieu is ready to rock, the expectation is that he will reclaim his role as the leadoff man and push Gleyber Torres back down the order.

DJ, now 35, fouled a ball off his right foot toward the end of spring training, forcing him to the injured list. He is taking steps in the right direction and participated in on-field batting practice on Friday, but he isn’t ready to make a return yet.

“Now it’s the bounceback,” Aaron Boone said on Saturday morning. “He’s a little [more] sore [Saturday]. The biggest test is side-to-side motion [and] not where you’re just running straight ahead.”

The Yankees Know DJ LeMahieu Still Has Gas Left in the Tank

Last season, LeMahieu hit .243/.327/.390, including 15 homers and 44 RBIs. Without context, his numbers look quite low and disappointing, but the second half of his 2023 season displayed a much better version of the veteran utility man. In fact, after the All-Star break, DJ hit .273/.377/.432.

The Yankees know that LeMahieu is one of their most experienced and composed hitters. While he lacks the athletic profile they would prefer as the lead-off option, he can generate walks and tough at-bats, which is why they want him ahead of Soto and Aaron Judge.

With that being said, Anthony Volpe has been red hot to open the 2024 season and could be playing his way into the future lead-off role. A newfound swing and approach have helped spark his production, but the Yankees are still limited as a starting-level player, and he will likely fill in at third base once he’s able to move laterally without any discomfort.

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