The New York Yankees are gearing up for an intense position battle in left field during spring training. Aaron Hicks, Estevan Florial, and Oswaldo Cabrera are the primary three options for the Yankees. Despite general manager Brian Cashman playing it conservative in free agency at the position, he’s confident someone will rise to the occasion.
Cashman routinely offers his confidence to Aaron Hicks, but Cabrera seems to have leverage going into his second season. He played just 44 games in 2022, hitting .247 with a .312 OBP, six homers, and 19 RBIs. He tallied a 25.7% strikeout rate, 8.8% walk rate, and 111 wRC+.
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While Cabrera wasn’t elite offensively by any means, he showed stellar defensive qualities, collecting 13 defensive runs saved above average, with nine coming in the outfield.
Despite Cabrera having a prime opportunity to secure the starting left-field gig, his better role may be in a utility one, allowing him to play at multiple positions to mitigate fatigue across the board and maximize his talents.
Oswaldo Cabrera spoke to the New York Post at the “Pinstripe Pride” event at American Dream in East Rutherford, N.J.
“I’m working for any opportunity,” said Cabrera. “I’m working at left field. I’m working at shortstop, third base, second base, right field, second base, wherever.
The Yankees are coaching Oswaldo Cabrera to be a utility man:
Clearly, the Yankees have Cabrera spreading out his efforts, playing multiple positions in which he can take over if need be. The Bombers have another position battle unfolding at shortstop. If Oswald Peraza and Isiah Kiner-Falefa struggle, who is to say that they don’t move Cabrera over until they find a better solution?
“I’m just working hard so the moment they give me an opportunity, just be in the shape to [run with] that opportunity.”
When manager Aaron Boone promoted Cabrera during the second half of the 2022 season, they immediately experienced a jolt of young energy. His excellent defense was a spark plug for the team, making a few phenomenal plays to justify retaining him at the top level and utilizing him as a prominent piece down the stretch.
Considering Oswaldo’s desire to play exceptional ball at multiple positions and the fact the Yankees have him playing several may suggest their ultimate plan with him.
“My mentality this year is just trying to be better all the time at each position,” Cabrera said, “just keep grinding.”
There’s a genuine possibility that the 23-year-old will start in left field at the beginning of the 2023 season, but to get exponential value out of him, deploying him as a super-utility piece may be the better long-term move.