Yankees’ super-utility man may be fighting for a roster spot in 2024

oswaldo cabrera, yankees
May 27, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Oswaldo Cabrera (95) hits a single against the San Diego Padres during the eighth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees will look a lot different in 2024, relying far less on suspect talent that requires significant development. The team ended up utilizing several prospects towards the end of the 2023 season as they prepared for the future, but one super-utility man who struggled offensively was Oswaldo Cabrera.

Cabrera displayed upside during the 2022 campaign when he played 44 MLB games. He hit .247/.312/.429, including six homers, a 25.7% strikeout rate, 8.8% walk rate, and 113 wRC+. Overall, Cabrera showcased decent bat-to-ball skills and offered a switch hitter in the lineup. Those are some valuable traits, but he took a step in the wrong direction last year over 115 games.

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The Yankees Can’t Rely on Oswaldo Cabrera Offensively

Cabrera had a chance to lock down the starting job in left field, but he ended up being sent back to Triple-A to tweak his fundamentals and rebuild his confidence. Over 330 major league plate appearances last season, he hit .211/.275/.299. His strikeout rate decreased to 21.8%, but his inability to make quality contact became problematic.

Cabrera recorded a 32.5% hard-hit rate, and his barrel rate nearly cut in half to 3.5%. His launch angle also decreased to 13.4°, elevating the ball less and putting the ball on the ground significantly more. In fact, his ground ball percentage increased from 28.2% during his first year in the MLB to 45% last season, with his fly-ball rate decreasing nearly 11%. Obviously, this promotes fewer home runs and far less extra base hits.

The Yankees need Cabrera to continue elevating the ball and making contact, otherwise he will be left out of the equation. The team expects to have Oswald Peraza feature in a utility role in the infield, and newly acquired outfielder Trent Grisham will get the first call if need be. Cabrera has seen his role diminish, and while he could still crack the active roster, the Bombers may keep him in Triple-A to get him more playing time until needed.

At the very least, Cabrera is a very valuable defensive asset who can lock down both infield and outfield spots seamlessly. The problem isn’t his versatility in the field, it’s that he compromises the batting order with a lack of consistency.