The New York Yankees face a series of uncertainties this offseason, a key one being the identification of a long-term solution for the third base.
At present, DJ LeMahieu and Oswald Peraza are the leading choices for the crucial spot. However, the third base position saw a dismal performance last season, with a combined average of just .192 and an average wRC+ of 74. With such underwhelming numbers from 2023, it’s plausible the Yankees might explore external avenues.
The Potential of Jeimer Candelario
A notable free agent on the radar is Jeimer Candelario, whom the Yankees nearly roped in during the last trade deadline. Delivering standout performances in 2023, Candelario hit career-highs with 22 home runs and 70 RBIs, boasting a .471 slugging percentage across 140 games with the Nationals and Cubs.
Candelario, a 29-year-old switch-hitter known for his superior bat-to-ball skills, appears to be a perfect match for the Yankees’ third base slot. Considering the team’s predominantly right-handed lineup from the previous season, Candelario’s inclusion would offer the much-needed equilibrium, infusing a more contact-centric approach.
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The Yankees’ Internal Option: Oswald Peraza
Should the Yankees decide to rely on their internal assets, Peraza emerges as a compelling contender.
However, 2023 was a roller-coaster year for the 23-year-old infielder, which culminated in a disappointing .115/.179/.269 slash line over the season’s final seven games. Initially anticipated to clinch the starting shortstop role during the Spring Training, he was overshadowed by Anthony Volpe’s superior performance.
While Peraza possesses the skill set to excel, showcasing commendable defensive capabilities at both the shortstop and third base, there linger questions about his batting prowess. The potential is evident, especially with instances of his power play and drive, but consistent results are still amiss.
The Path Forward
For the Yankees to reclaim their competitive edge in 2024, an exhaustive evaluation of all available options is imperative. Both internal and external choices carry inherent risks. Yet, to reestablish their World Series contention, the team might need to embrace significant risks.
The strategy the Yankees adopt for their third base conundrum this offseason is eagerly awaited.
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