The left field position battle is one of the more prominent concerns for the New York Yankees, a team that has strengths across the board but is still struggling to find a regular starter at that specific position.
Going into spring training, Aaron Hicks had a bit of leverage given his experience, but Oswaldo Cabrera was expected to compete for the role. The team also signed Rafael Ortega and Willie Calhoun to contest alongside former top prospect, Estevan Florial.
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The Yankees seem to be using Oswaldo Cabrera as a utility man:
However, Cabrera’s role has taken an interesting turn this spring, especially after manager Aaron Boone coined him a primary infielder rather than looking to expand upon his versatility in the outfield. They haven’t kept Oswaldo in one spot, rather moving him around and testing him in different alignments. He’s capable of performing adequately in multiple spots, with second base, left, and right field seemingly his strengths. Cabrera can play shortstop, first base, and center field, but they are likely his least preferable positions. He’s gotten a few innings of action on the hot corner, which seems to be a bit of a tough position that requires substantial arm strength.
“With what he’s shown us so far, you feel good about him anywhere on the field,” Boone said. “I don’t necessarily see him being a regular center fielder for us at any point, but I could see it in a certain game when things get moved around. I want to get him at least exposed to it.”
While his defensive qualities will undoubtedly shine through this upcoming year, it seems as if the Yankees are prepared to utilize him as a super utility option, which should open up opportunities for others. If Isiah Kiner-Falefa loses the shortstop battle, for example, they could end up moving him to save the $6 million and potentially get a prospect in return. Cabrera is more than capable of filling in at every infield spot, and with DJ LeMahieu also looking for starting reps, there’s no need for IKF to be on the roster.
Offensively, the 24-year-old is having a solid start to spring, picking up five hits, two homers, and seven RBIs across 17 at-bats. He’s hitting .294 with a .333 OBP, including a .980 OPS. If Cabrera can hover around the 33% on-base mark, the Yankees can get extraordinary value out of him, since the majority of his quality comes as a defender. However, if he can hit double-digit homers in 2023, utilizing the short right porch in Yankee Stadium, there’s no question he will be an asset and a catalyst toward the Yankees’ success.