Yankees could make surprise decision at first base, ignoring Olson/Rizzo sweepstakes

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The New York Yankees have been heavily connected to Oakland Athletics star first baseman Matt Olson, but that doesn’t guarantee general manager Brian Cashman will strike a deal. Of course, acquiring Olson would be a luxury, given he is coming off a season where he recorded a .271 average with 39 homers and 111 RBIs. He earned his first All-Star appearance in 2021, and given his lefty bat at Yankee Stadium, he could crack 40 homers for the first time in his career wearing pinstripes.

However, the Yankees might have a different plan in mind, as they have several versatile infielders who can move around if need be. Skipper Aaron Boone indicated that DJ LeMahieu, who signed a six-year, $90 million extension last off-season, could fill several vulnerabilities.

“DJ, I think, gives us the flexibility to make some more strategic [roster] moves, whether it’s free agency or a trade,’’ Aaron Boone said on Tuesday. “DJ is gonna be out there every day. He’s able to play third base, second base or even first base and you can kind of build the roster in that way.”

There’s also a possibility the Yankees bring back Anthony Rizzo on an extension. Rizzo secured a .249 average with eight homers and 21 RBIs in 49 games with the Yankees after being traded from the Chicago Cubs of the deadline.

Rizzo is a quality player with solid defense, but he is 31-years-old compared to Olson at 27. Cashman would have to part ways with significant talent, likely from their deep prospect pool, given Oakland wants to reduce the money off their books.

LeMahieu, who has plenty of experience at first base, spent 55 games there this past season, recording a .997 fielding percentage with just one error. LeMahieu is an above-average defender at most spots, and if the Yankees are looking to acquire a big-name shortstop, they can retain Gio Urshela at third base, Gleyber Torres at second, and move DJ permanently to first.

While this wouldn’t be the exciting move fans expect the Yankees to make, it makes sense given DJ’s success at first. It all really depends on how much the Steinbrenner’s are willing to spend this off-season and if Cashman can convince himself to part ways with a few key prospects.

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