Yankees oddly linked to intriguing infield free agent

josh harrison, yankees
Sep 15, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Chicago White Sox second baseman Josh Harrison (5) scores in the ninth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Despite having an overage of infielders, the New York Yankees are still scouring the market for opportunities. Instead of signing new infielders, offloading some may be a preferable strategy, especially with Josh Donaldson’s $21 million remaining this year and Isiah Kiner-Falefa signing a one-year, $6 million deal.

Depending on what happens during spring training at shortstop and third base, IKF could end up being a trade piece. Donaldson will be difficult to move, given his baggage and lofty price tag, but the Yankees still believe he has value coming off a down offensive year.

Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped management from checking in on one veteran infielder, Josh Harrison.

The Yankees have discussed signing free agent Jurickson Profar. But the Yankees are adamant (at least for now) about staying under the “Steve Cohen tax” threshold of $293 million. They are at about $290M. They, too, checked in on Josh Harrison. 

Per Jon Heyman of the New York Post.

Cashman is always looking for sneaky value signings, and Harrison may fit the bill. At 35 years old, the righty batter can primarily play second base and third base. He spent last season with the Chicago White Sox, playing in 119 games, hitting .256 with a .317 OBP, seven homers, and 27 RBIs. He recorded a 16.7% strikeout rate and a 4.9% walk rate with a 98 wRC+. He was a 1.4 WAR player but did record a 2.3 WAR in 2021 between the Washington Nationals and Oakland Athletics. He posted a 34% on-base rate that season, hitting .279 with eight homers and 60 RBIs with nine stolen bases.

The Yankees are making some interesting moves:

Clearly, there is some value to be had with Harrison, who played 749.1 innings at second base last season for Chicago, recording a .971 fielding percentage with three defensive runs saved and three outs above average. Interestingly, Harrison also has experience in left field, a position the Yankees currently view as vacant. He’s enjoyed 449.1 innings there, offering spotty defense.

I don’t believe the Yankees are looking at Harrison as a potential left-field option but rather as a supplementary piece in the infield at a cheap price point. He’s capable of hitting for average and getting on base at a decent enough clip to justify his offensive contributions.

Defensively, he’s a fine player that can help out at two positions that could be in flux this upcoming season. They could need some veteran support depending on what the Yankees do on the hot corner and if they look to trade Gleyber Torres. DJ is doing well with his toe injury, but who knows if he can last a full season without sustaining another issue.

At 35 years old, Harrison will be cheap to acquire, but I’m having a hard time finding the point, given the Yankees still have Donaldson and Kiner-Falefa on the roster. Unless they feel confident they can trade one of them and replace their active roster spot with a veteran like Harrison, it doesn’t make much sense at this point.

However, No. 1 prospect Anthony Volpe is vying for an opportunity in the bigs, and if he dominated during spring training, he could change the Yankees’ plans entirely.