Yankees expect to use veteran infielder as primary 3B when he returns

MLB: Oakland Athletics at New York Yankees, dj lemahieu
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have had a lot of question marks surrounding the third base position since the start of the season, as injuries have ravaged their depth chart there. From Oswald Peraza being shut down with a shoulder issue in Spring Training before finally returning to the active roster this past weekend in Triple-A to DJ LeMahieu fouling a ball off of his foot with mere days to go before Opening Day, the Yankees were put in a tough position and had to even go out and trade for Jon Berti to fill out their depth chart.

With Oswaldo Cabrera slowing down after his hot start and Berti serving more of a utility role for this team, Aaron Boone mentioned before today’s game that he expects DJ LeMahieu to become the primary third baseman when he returns to the team.

DJ LeMahieu Will Get the Lionshare of Games at 3B For the Yankees

MLB: Spring Training-Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
Mar 11, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees third baseman DJ LeMahieu (26) singles during the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The season started with Oswaldo Cabrera hitting at a torrid pace and playing a key role in their opening series sweep in Houston against the Astros. He’s slowed down since then with his wRC+ sitting at just, and Jon Berti has begun to eat into his playing time after returning from the IL in May. The Yankees were prepared to go with DJ LeMahieu as their primary third baseman entering the season before he fouled a ball off of his foot, so it’s no surprise that he’d return to that role upon reinstatement.

LeMahieu still needs to complete his rehab assignment, playing two games thus far with the Somerset Patriots to get himself acclimated to game speed again. Aaron Boone also mentioned that we could see LeMahieu at first base to give Anthony Rizzo rest, and this could create some fun platoon matchups when you look at the splits for the veteran first baseman against lefties.

MLB: Spring Training-Atlanta Braves at New York Yankees
Mar 10, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees third baseman DJ LeMahieu (26) looks on against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Right now the Yankees have the second-best wRC+ in baseball (122), and while DJ LeMahieu is the farthest thing from a safe bet at the age of 35, his 101 wRC+ and +3 Outs Above Average at 3B last season would be a huge help. We could see this team revisit their infield depth chart at the deadline with the struggles Gleyber Torres had to start the season, but he’s starting to get the ball rolling over his last eight games.

Where they go at third base for now is clear however; DJ LeMahieu will get the majority of starts when he comes back to the lineup.

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