The New York Yankees have a big decision to make at shortstop this off-season — sticking with Isiah Kiner-Falefa, rotating to Oswald Peraza, or calling up one of their star prospects to finally make the leap.
Kiner-Falefa had a polarizing 2022 season after being traded from the Minnesota Twins before the campaign began. IKF posted a .970 fielding percentage at SS over 1,185 innings. He tallied 15 errors and turned 47 double plays. However, first baseman Anthony Rizzo saved him on a number of occasions, scooping balls out of the dirt at a rather alarming rate.
After being benched in the ALDS against Cleveland, the narrative started to point away from IKF being a quality defender and headed in the direction of Oswald Peraza, who flashed elite glove work in the ALCS against Houston.
Peraza played in 12 games, including 89 innings defensively. He hosted a perfect fielding percentage with four double plays turned. The great thing about Peraza is his ability to make routine, please look easy, which is something IKF struggled with this past season.
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The Yankees should consider calling up their star prospect:
The Yankees may make a leap of faith next year, calling up star prospect Anthony Volpe, giving them a bit more flexibility with how they utilize Peraza. If they end up trading Gleyber Torres, they could plug DJ LeMahieu at second and move Peraza to third base, where he has plenty of arm strength and fielding quality to make the transition.
Volpe played 110 games last year with a Somerset, hitting .251 with a 35% on-base rate, 18 homers, and 60 RBIs. He played in 22 games with Scranton in Triple-A, earning a .236 average with a 31.3% on-base rate, including three homers and five RBIs. The likelihood is that he needs a bit more time in Scranton to make the leap to the majors, but he finished the season on a high note. He tallied four hits in his last three games, including a home run and two stolen bases.
Volpe has adjusted nicely to increased levels of talent, so calling him up and giving him a full season of experience could set the Yankees up nicely for their long-term future. They tend to be a bit more conservative with their approach, though, indicating they may look to bring up Volpe when his service time can be manipulated in mid-August. Expect a similar strategy to how they utilize Peraza late in the year, but he may be ready to make the transition sooner. At the very least, he can earn some playing time during Spring Training, that way, the Yankees can see him up against MLB-level pitching.
At some point, manager Aaron Boone has to commit to the youth on the team, so at the very least, Peraza should be starting at shortstop if Volpe needs more time.