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

Oswald Peraza hasn’t gotten much run with the Yankees, but he hasn’t necessarily forced himself into a starting role either. It’s never been made clear whether he’s a contact or power guy, often switching up his approach when called up to the Major Leagues. This upcoming season will be pivotal for the 23-year-old infielder, who hopes to carve out a permanent role on the roster and potentially a starting role. He came up through the system as a consensus top-100 prospect, and I had high hopes for him, but he hasn’t lived up to them thus far.

With a versatile glove and a shot to open the season on the Major League roster, how can Oswald Peraza cement himself on this roster in 2024?

Can Oswald Peraza Earn a Starting Job on the Yankees?

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

This past season was underwhelming for Oswald Peraza at the Major League level, as while he posted a 108 wRC+ in Triple-A, he posted a 53 wRC+ and .267 OBP across 52 games in the Bronx. He had two massive holes in his offensive profile that just about sink any season, and it was sporting a high whiff rate without generating damage contact. Peraza had a 33.1% Whiff% and 4.1% Barrel Rate, which are ugly numbers that must be corrected if he wants to stay on the big league roster beyond the start of 2024.

We’ve seen him display monstrous power as he had a Max EV of 112.1 MPH in Triple-A and 110.6 MPH in the Majors, but consistently finding the upper percentiles of his raw power has proven to be a struggle. His glove anchors his profile, as he’s a plus defender at three different infield spots, but until his Triple-A profile translates to the Major Leagues, we’re always going to be left wanting more. He certainly has his work cut out for him at the plate, but he does have a shot to earn a starting job in the infield.

Third base is a massive question mark for the Yankees, as while DJ LeMahieu is the projected starter, he’s entering his age-35 season and has dealt with various injuries that have slowed him down in years past. Peraza is going to get opportunities to start for periods of time when injuries inevitably befall the team, and he’ll have to be ready to take advantage of that whenever. Steamer projects him for a 97 wRC+ and 1.1 fWAR across 70 games, and while those aren’t terrible numbers, they also wouldn’t be enough for the Yankees to make him their everyday third baseman.

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Consistently unlocking his raw power should be a priority for Oswald Peraza, who does have excellent pull-side power and has the frame to drive the ball consistently. Speed and defense will anchor his profile and give him enough value on an MLB roster to stick around, but it’s a matter of his bat becoming good enough to become an everyday starter. His arm should allow him to play great defense at the hot corner, and the team could certainly use the youth injection, given that they finished dead last in all of baseball in team Sprint Speed.

The Yankees want Oswald Peraza to take that next step because he could be a cost-controlled option in their infield for years to come with great athleticism. He doesn’t need to become a middle-of-the-order bat, but being a 100 wRC+ bat with his glove and speed could be enough to make him a quality starter at third base. Steamer projects LeMahieu for a 106 wRC+, but we know he’s going to be a net negative on the basepaths, where Peraza could put up positive value and end up with a better WAR.

For the first time in Oswald Peraza’s career, he’ll get a chance to battle for a Major League job and stick with the team all season, and now it’s a matter of taking advantage. He’s shown off plenty of enticing skills in Scranton, blasting 26 HRs in his last 109 games at Triple-A with 34 steals, but this is a make-it-or-break-it year for Peraza. He’s out of MiLB options, and the team can’t just option him to the Minor Leagues for roster space, so he’ll have to produce to stay in the organization.

Oswald Peraza hasn’t always received the best treatment in terms of getting opportunities, but with how uncertain the Yankees are at third base, this is his chance to finally break through and live up to the top-100 prospect hype.