Yankees claim versatile player off of waivers, designate former first round pick for assignment

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Philadelphia Phillies
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As Spring Training continues, the New York Yankees continue to shuffle around their infield depth, this time picking up an interesting infielder in Jahmai Jones off of waivers. The 26-year-old was designated for assignment by the Milwaukee Brewers last week, and the Yankees are taking a flyer on a prospect who has had some success at the Minor League level this past season. Jones hit 12 home runs in 103 games with a .413 OBP and 122 wRC+ in Triple-A for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers at the highest level of Minor League Baseball but has struggled in the big leagues.

In his brief 90 plate appearance sample size in the Major Leagues, Jones has a 26 wRC+ and -1.0 fWAR, and he’ll hope to get involved in the infield shuffle as the Yankees have an open bench spot up for grabs.

Infield Shuffle Continues For the Yankees

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Milwaukee Brewers
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Jahmai Jones relies on an excellent eye at the plate to find success, and while he has made strides with his hit tool in recent years, it hasn’t resulted in making contact at the big-league level. His strikeout rates could be something the Yankees can get down to a manageable clip, but it’s also possible that Jones would find himself off the roster if a different player were to be waived. After seeing the myriad of claims and DFAs the Yankees have made over the winter, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Jahmai Jones go as well.

The former second-round pick does have an advantage that others they’ve claimed doesn’t however, and that’s the recent success at a high level of Minor League Baseball, which could provide some optimism regarding his approach. It’s also notable that teams such as the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Milwaukee Brewers, who are all considered forward-thinking organizations, have taken a flyer on the infielder. On the other hand, you could argue that his lack of MLB success despite being in those excellent organizations is concerning as well.

READ MORE: The Yankees are getting strong early results from unique infielder

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals, oswald peraza
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What we do know is that the Yankees have a question on their bench regarding their reserve infielder, and while Peraza provides more diversity and defensive ability than Jones, they haven’t always handed him the job. Last season we saw Anthony Volpe steal the job right out of Peraza’s hands, and for most of the 2023 season, they opted for other players including an aging and wildly unpopular Josh Donaldson over him. The Dodgers were able to get Jones to generate more power with his swing as he barreled 8.3% of batted balls with a .250 Isolated Power in 62 games with the OKC Dodgers.

Among hitters with at least 250 Plate Appearances, Jones was one of the best hitters at the Triple-A level in terms of swing decisions as well, grading out with an 18.9 SEAGER score which ranked 18th out of 295 players. The Yankees are getting a player with a strong feel for the strike zone and decent enough power to get by, but it’s a question of whether that can translate to the Major Leagues or not in his age-26 season. The Yankees have turned MiLB players into gems before, but the median outcome for most of these players is either being cut from the roster or struggling.

The roster casualty is Jordan Groshans, who was a former first-round pick by the Toronto Blue Jays and was designated for assignment by the Miami Marlins as well earlier in the winter.

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