Yankees place Anthony Rizzo on IL, promote utility man from Triple-A

mlb: kansas city royals at new york yankees, anthony rizzo
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As the Yankees gear up to face the Houston Astros in a critical four-game set in the Bronx, they’ll add Oswaldo Cabrera to the mix as they do some roster shuffling. The placement of Domingo German on the Restricted List created room for the addition of Kenyan Middleton in their bullpen, and with Anthony Rizzo’s recent struggles, the news that he was placed on the IL paint a much clearer image of his stark decline.

The Yankees are placing 1B Anthony Rizzo on the IL with concussion issues stemming back to the Tatis collision, and the Yankees figure they could just align the infield with Jake Bauers at 1B, Gleyber Torres at 2B, Anthony Volpe at SS, and DJ LeMahieu at 3B with Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the mix for starts at 2B/3B/SS, as well as the aforementioned Oswaldo Cabrera. Coming off of a horrendous start to his season, he’s hitting .320 with a 151 wRC+ in his last 31 PAs, and in his most recent game at Scranton, he hit a HR and drove in two runs in the process.

It doesn’t look like he’ll get much playing time at the Major League level in this stint, but hopefully, there’s a turnaround in his bat. As for what the Yankees have in store for their infield, it could open up some interesting alignments and restore hope that Rizzo’s struggles were injury-related and not due to skill regression.

The Yankees Could Change Infield Look

With the loss of Rizzo to the IL, the Yankees should use this opportunity to get an extended look at Oswald Peraza. With a 113 wRC+ in Triple-A and encouraging contact rates, Peraza could realistically get full-time reps at 3B with LeMahieu serving a true utility role and platooning against LHP with Jake Bauers, who’ll take over at first most likely. Torres and Volpe are pretty locked in up the middle, and with the deadline passing, Gleyber Torres is here for at least the rest of the 2023 season.

Peraza has struggled this year at the MLB level, but coming off of a 2022 performance eat the Major League level where he posted a 146 wRC+ in 18 games, he’s consistently done a great job of working walks and making contact. His career 11.6% BB% and 20.7% K% are strong plate discipline numbers for a young infielder adjusting to the Majors, but the ability to generate damage from his swings is something he’ll have to develop if he wants to take that next step into becoming an above-average hitter consistently.

Defensively, he has a great arm with elite range, and the Yankees know his sprint speed and arm strength data make for an extremely athletic and promising defender at 2B/3B/SS. It may not be the flashiest of profiles, but a high-floor player with solid offensive tools, great defense, and elite base running is extremely valuable, and with the Yankees potentially looking to move Gleyber Torres in the offseason, this gives them an extended look at a potential replacement.

MLB: New York Yankees at Colorado Rockies, oswald peraza
Jul 16, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Oswald Peraza (91) reacts after hitting an RBI single in the eleventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

As for what Cabrera can do for the infield, it’s hard to imagine they’ll rely on his bat, especially after the slow start he got off to, but it’s easy to see how they’ll throw him into late-game situations if they slide LeMahieu to 1B or pinch-hit for Bauers against a LHP, since Cabrera can play all over the infield and could man the corners in the outfield as well. With strong sprint speeds, he’ll also immediately become one of their better pinch-running options, where the Yankees can plug him in wherever in the lineup since it’s likely he can hold it down at the position he subs in for.

The concussion issues for Rizzo are concerning, but with the Yankees having Jake Bauers to man the position, it’ll allow him to get the treatment and time off he needs. Bryan Hoch reports cognitive impairment that the Yankees noticed and decided to shut him down for, and with his poor play at the plate, suddenly his extended slump makes a lot more sense. Whether they handled it well or not is a different conversation for a different day, but for now, they’ll opt to keep him on the IL.

There isn’t a timetable for his return, but given the significance of any head trauma or injury, they’ll brace for the worst and hope for the best when it comes to his return date.

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