Yankees’ promising outfield prospect is facing a grueling battle for playing time

mlb: washington nationals at new york yankees, everson pereira
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees reinforced their outfield significantly this off-season with the acquisitions of Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo, and Trent Grisham. Three new outfielders should support a far better unit, especially since Soto is a Hall-of-Fame level bat and Verdugo has above-average upside. Grisham is in a category of his own, presenting a lower-quality bat but a two-time Gold Glove-winning defender.

Grisham will serve as the primary depth behind Aaron Judge, Soto, and Verdugo. However, the team still has Giancarlo Stanton, Oswaldo Cabrera as a utility piece, Oscar Gonzalez, and prospect Everson Pereira.

However, Pereira’s journey to earning a starting job has become a bit more complicated with these new acquisitions and the expectation that the Yankees will extend Soto beyond the 2024 season.

Pereira dominated during his minor league tenure, but the 22-year-old struggled at the MLB level, and getting enough innings to take steps forward may be difficult. Pereira played just 27 games last year with the Yankees, hitting .151/.233/.194, including 10 RBIs and a 38.8% strikeout rate. His Steamer projections have him playing just three games this upcoming season, which certainly suggests he is buried behind a myriad of MLB talent.

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The Yankees Will Have to Maximize Pereira’s Value Somehow

However, it is not only the veterans blocking him from enjoying action; it is Jasson Dominguez and Spencer Jones who are quickly approaching readiness to join the MLB. Dominguez dominated over just eight games at the end of the 2023 season before he required Tommy John surgery. He had four homers in that time span, one of them coming off Justin Verlander, a Hall of Fame-level pitcher.

Jones has lofty expectations, given his ability to steal bases, play stellar defense, and smash baseballs over the short right porch in Yankee Stadium.

Several projection models have Jones ranked higher than Dominguez in the Yankees’ farm system. That is quite the testimony to his talent, and taking over a starting job in the future alongside Dominguez will put Pereira behind the scenes.

In fact, the Yankees may want to consider leveraging his value via trade before they burn through his minor-league options. He only has one left, so the Yankees will likely keep him at the Triple-A level until they need him due to injury or they find a reasonable deal they can float him in.

With so many young outfielders vying for starting jobs in the future, the Yankees will have to make some difficult decisions, but their pitching needs are paramount. It is unlikely they will make a big splash deal for Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery in the near term, but they could look to the summer trade deadline to acquire a pitcher to support their World Series aspirations.

Pereira could be a key component in a prospective deal for a pitcher like Shane Bieber, depending on his health and consistency at that point in the year, but the Yankees may want to go big and try to land an arm like Corbin Burnes.

Waiting until the deadline is preferable since they will have to give up far less to acquire a quality arm compared to now.

Pereira is a solid defensive asset with plenty of offensive upside, given the pop in his bat and ability to hit for extra bases. Pereira could end up being a starter on another team, but the Yankees will always prioritize Dominguez and Jones over him based on the upside.