The New York Yankees will need a solution at the third base position in 2024 after Josh Donaldson’s contract inevitably expires. General manager Brian Cashman acquired Donaldson in a multi-player trade with the Minnesota Twins last year, taking on the rest of his monster contract. He was owed $50 million over two years and is being paid $25 million this season at age 37.
Donaldson is currently dealing with a hamstring injury, but it doesn’t seem to be anything too serious, despite the team taking a cautious approach. However, the veteran infielder’s best days are well behind him, recording a sub-100 wRC+ for the first time since 2012, his rookie season.
In 2022, he hit .222 with a .308 OBP and has started off the 2023 season even worse. Across just five games, Donaldson is hitting .125 with a .176 OBP, recording one HR and an RBI with a 35.3% strikeout rate.
Considering he’s being paid an egregious amount to perform well below expectation, the Yankees need to be thinking about the future and long-term solutions. That is where current Toronto Blue Jays infielder Matt Chapman enters the fold.
The Yankees have been linked to Matt Chapman:
The resurrected, red-hot Matt Chapman currently stands as the top free-agent-to-be among position players, and the Mets and Yankees are two likely fits.Per Jon Heyman of the NY Post.
Both the Mets and Yankees are seemingly intrigued by Chapman’s services next off-season. Coming off a down year, the veteran 3B is having a resurgent season across just 12 games. Over a 52-plate appearance sample size, Chapman is hitting .489 with a .553 OBP and .851 slugging percentage, posting three homers and 15 RBIs. He also hosts a career-low 19.2% strikeout rate and a 286 wRC+, which will undoubtedly even out at some point.
Traditionally, Chapman is a prominent slugger who posts double-digit homers every season without fail. He recorded a 4.1 WAR last year and has already nailed down a 1.2 WAR to start the current campaign.
Considering Chapman will be 30 years old, the Yankees must think long and hard about the length of a prospective contract offer. They just inked Aaron Judge to a nine-year deal at the same age, but he is an MVP-caliber player they can rely on daily. Chapman has been traditionally healthy his entire career, which is undoubtedly a positive variable the Bombers must consider.
The team has a few homegrown players who could elevate their qualities and compete for the starting job if they don’t want to spend a lot at the position. Oswald Peraza, who lost the shortstop job outright to Anthony Volpe, hasn’t been taking any reps at third base, but it’s never too late to start. Big slugger Andres Chaparro has experience at the position but profiles better as a first baseman, and infielder Trey Sweeney could also fit the bill if he begins to transition.
The Yankees have a surplus of shortstops in their farm system. Still, they aren’t considering them for other positions for the time being, which indeed suggests a free agent may be their best option to find a legitimate solution on the hot corner.