Yankees roster flexibility improves as young infielder qualifies for 4th MiLB option

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

A massive question for the Yankees entering the winter pertained to what they would do with infielder Oswald Peraza, formerly a top-100 prospect in baseball, as he had expended his third MiLB option in 2023. This meant that without options, the Yankees would have zero leverage in any deals as they would have to either keep him on the roster or place him on waivers after Spring Training, but it’s being reported now that he qualified for a 4th MiLB option. It gives the Yankees flexibility to either option or roster Peraza instead of being forced to trade him, which could help them in trade talks too.

This comes after the news that Yoendrys Gomez also qualified for a 4th MiLB option last night, and the Yankees are getting some good fortune on the roster management front.

Extra MiLB Option Gives Yankees More Choices

mlb: game two-new york yankees at boston red sox, oswald peraza
Sep 14, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Oswald Peraza (91) reacts to his two-run home run against the Boston Red Sox during the ninth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees can now handle the situation with Oswald Peraza in a myriad of ways, and while this doesn’t rule out a potential trade, it doesn’t force them to make one either. One of the biggest issues with keeping Peraza on the bench stems from the fact that it’s hard for him to rebuild any value without consistent opportunities, especially given how much his bat needs to develop. His glove is elite, with excellent athleticism that allows him to have solid range and an arm that ranks in the 74th Percentile in throwing velocity (88.2 MPH).

He can play all over the infield, showing promise in the middle infield but also adding third base to his portfolio this season for the first time in his career. Offensively, his career .604 OPS and 4.3% Barrel Rate are underwhelming, and while Peraza has shown upside with his bat at the MiLB level, he doesn’t profile as the kind of position player who will do damage with the bat at the Major League level, rather relying on his glove at a premium position and his speed to generate value.

With the added MiLB option, the Yankees can keep him in Triple-A instead to continue and sharpen some of his offensive skills with the Scranton RailRiders and come up when needed to play a full-time role. DJ LeMahieu is the projected starter at third base for the Yankees, and the team seems set on letting him get some run at the position after posting a 128 wRC+ in the second half. It’s possible that the 35-year-old got off to a slow start due to the toe injury he suffered at the end of the 2022 season, but Peraza is valuable insurance for an aging infielder.

mlb: new york yankees at tampa bay rays, dj lemahieu
Aug 25, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; New York Yankees third baseman DJ LeMahieu (26) celebrates with right fielder Aaron Judge (99) after he hit a home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees haven’t shown much of a desire to play Oswald Peraza every day, and while that may not be the correct evaluation, it’s not as if the 23-year-old infielder has done much to secure a full-time role. Perhaps if he had performed better in his stint in 2023, the team would have been more comfortable going with him as their starting third baseman, but Aaron Boone naming LeMahieu the starter is pretty telling of what their strategy is for 2024. It’s also possible that the Yankees add a backup infielder to push Peraza down the depth chart, as they’ve shown interest in a reunion with Gio Urshela.

With the acquisition of Juan Soto, the Yankees don’t have time to wait for prospects to develop while they have more secure options in their infield, although the Venezuelan infielder may shine next year as well. Spring Training could be an opportunity for Oswald Peraza to show the Yankees that he’s capable of playing a full-time role at some point during the season, and with how injury-prone the team has been over the years, it’s almost a guarantee that he’ll get a chance to come up and earn his pinstripes.

It’s almost an extra life for Oswald Peraza, who has Triple-A as a cushion in case he doesn’t break camp with the team and could continue to hone his craft in anticipation of another chance.