Yankees could turn their attention to slugging third baseman to reinforce infield

matt chapman, yankees
Apr 11, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman (26) reacts after hitting a home run against the Detroit Tigers during the fourth inning at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees‘ hunt for a new starting pitcher will likely happen after the new year, but it’ll be easier said than done after missing out on Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Signing Jordan Montgomery in free agency represents a good alternative, or trading for a rental like Shane Bieber could present a nice stop-gap before the issue presents itself again in 2025.

The problem is neither Montgomery nor Beiber have the upside and quality Yamamoto contains. The Yankees will be looking for proven talent to help them push toward the World Series next season after acquiring Juan Soto and trying to take advantage of Gerrit Cole and Aaron Judge’s prime windows.

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The Yankees Could Add Another Slugger, But There Are Risks

With that being said, the Yankees could look to spread out their money a bit more and reinforce the infield with a slugger like Matt Chapman. Andy Martino of SNY suggests that Chapman could be a good fit, but a lot is working against him after a hot start to the 2023 season. Chapman hit .372/.459/.691 last April across 94 at-bats, but his numbers deteriorated from there. He finished the campaign hitting .240/.330/.424, including 17 homers, 54 RBIs, and a 110 wRC+.

One of the variables to like about Chapman is that he still hits the ball incredibly hard. He recorded a 56.1% hard-hit rate, 17.1% barrel rate, and 93.5 average exit velocity. He fits the bill perfectly for the Yankees and their mantra of hitting the ball hard, but this would also shake things up in the infield.

Chapman would take over at third base, where he posted 12 defensive runs saved and four outs above average last season — a Gold Glove-level defender. This would shift DJ LeMahieu into his regular utility role, but it would make Oswald Pazza obsolete.

In this instance, the Yankees could leverage Peraza as a trade piece to try and land more pitching, but locking Chapman in on a long-term deal could become a liability. Spending more money on an inconsistent bat is avoidable, and the Yankees shouldn’t take that risk.

General manager Brian Cashman is better off investing in pitching, even if it means spending over $100 million on Montgomery to help solve a significant issue in the rotation. If the Yankees really want to make a push toward the World Series, they need a better rotation, so acquiring Montgomery and Bieber might be enough to help stifle any concerns. Trading Michael King to the San Diego Padres left a significant gap.

To round things out, taking another gamble on an inconsistent bat with good defense could end up biting the Yankees in the butt once again. They’ve gone down this road with Josh Donaldson already, and while Chapman is still in his prime and played a minimum of 140 games over the past three years, it still represents a risk the Yankees shouldn’t be willing to take.