Yankees’ promising utility man continuing his development this off-season

oswaldo cabrera, yankees
May 29, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Oswaldo Cabrera (95) celebrates the out against the Seattle Mariners during the fifth inning at T-Mobile Park. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees saw a promising talent rise in Oswaldo Cabrera during the 2022 season as he burst onto the scene, leaving a considerable mark in the outfield. His initial exploits provided a much-needed jolt of energy and skill, especially in right field, combining stellar defensive plays with significant contributions at the plate.

Initial Impact and Subsequent Struggles

Cabrera’s debut was marked by notable numbers, hitting .247 and a .312 OBP, plus six home runs and 19 RBIs across 44 games, not to mention a 113 wRC+. The expectation was a trajectory of improvement for 2023, but Cabrera encountered hurdles that impacted his performance, necessitating a stint in Triple-A to regain his form.

In a challenging season, 24-year-old Cabrera’s statistics reflected his struggles. Over 115 games, he achieved a .211 batting average, a .275 OBP, and a .299 slugging rate. Additionally, his wRC+ plummeted to 60, accompanied by a 21.8% strikeout rate and a 7.6% walk rate. The decline from being 13% above average in hitting to 40% below was stark, igniting discussions about his future contributions.

Defensive Versatility Amidst Offensive Woes

Despite his offensive woes, Cabrera’s defensive capabilities shone through. He clocked 589.1 innings in the outfield, recording a .992 fielding percentage, albeit with -2 defensive runs saved and -1 out above average. The Yankees capitalized on his versatility, shifting him across various positions, which slightly diluted his defensive metrics compared to the previous season.

Interestingly, Cabrera didn’t just limit himself to the outfield. He also had stints at second base, third base, and shortstop, demonstrating his adaptability. His time at third base was particularly noteworthy, with one defensive run saved and two outs above average over 112.1 innings.

Off-Season Plans and 2024 Outlook With the Yankees

Foregoing a typical off-season break, Cabrera plans to invest in further honing his skills. He is set to join his brother in Venezuela for additional practice and at-bats, an effort to reset ahead of the 2024 season, via LiderenDeportes. This dedicated approach, especially following adjustments made in Triple-A, underscores his commitment to bouncing back.

With financial considerations in play — comparing Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s $6 million in the final year of arbitration to Cabrera’s projected $740K in 2024 — the young utilityman’s value is further highlighted. Anticipating free agency only in 2029, Cabrera’s current focus is undoubtedly on refinement and development, hopeful that his off-season efforts will translate into a resurgence on the field next season.

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