Yankees should sign versatile free-agent infielder to boost their bench

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Minnesota Twins
Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

The news that the New York Yankees made a $4 million offer to utilityman Kiké Hernández sparked a conversation regarding the team’s interest in potentially adding a depth piece to their bench. Oswald Peraza, who was considered a lock to make the team as a reserve infielder, has seemingly fallen out of favor with the organization, as they had interest in names like Gio Urshela and Tony Kemp as well, who would have certainly grabbed jobs on their 26-man roster and pushed Peraza to Triple-A.

It’s unclear whether the Yankees are guaranteed to add more infield depth in free agency, but Donovan Solano would be a perfect fit for their bench with his infield versatility and excellent skills at the plate. While not a star-caliber player, the 36-year-old has been a consistently solid contributor at the plate, and he could provide the Yankees much-needed insurance in their infield.

Donovan Solano Could Boost Yankees Infield Depth

MLB: ALDS-Minnesota Twins at Houston Astros
Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most underrated hitters in baseball last season, Donovan Solano posted a 116 wRC+ with a .369 OBP for the Minnesota Twins last season, and in-season tweaks he made allowed him to have a career year. Adding a leg kick mid-season allowed him to post a 123 wRC+ and .376 OBP from May 22nd onward and get more opportunities with the Twins in their lineup. While the Yankees can’t provide a starting job, they do have injury concerns in their infield that would create a desire to build up their depth.

DJ LeMahieu has had two season-ended injuries that knocked him out of the postseason in 2021 and 2022, and the toe injury seemed to affect him in the first half of last season. He’s healthy right now, and the Yankees are happy with his health, but relying on a 36-year-old to remain healthy for the entirety of the season is irrational, and it’s also foolish to discount the chance of a regression. Father time is undefeated, and optimism surrounding LeMahieu should be viewed with a cautious lens.

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts

The injury concerns don’t end there, as while Anthony Rizzo looks excellent in Spring Training following a nasty concussion last year, he’s dealt with back problems multiple times. If the Yankees were to lose him, even for a couple of weeks, having a readily available option to fill in at first base would help as well. Prospects like Ben Rice or Jorbit Vivas could certainly step up during the season and give the Yankees insurance, but they’ve yet to excel at Triple-A, and rushing their development could harm their growth.

What Solano does is provide a hitter that fits exactly what the Yankees need, a high-OBP profile that can hit anywhere in the lineup based on the team’s needs. Donovan Solano could lead-off in a pinch for the Yankees if they aren’t getting production there or they can slot him in the bottom-third of the order to deepen their lineup.

READ MORE: Yankees made an offer nearing $4 million to utilityman, according to MLB insider

Having this good of a bat in reserve to help the infield is something that would increase the floor of the team, and it would also give them a chance to have another plus bat if things go south for any of their starters. You can never have too many good position players, and injuries can ravage a team at any time. The ability to hold it down at first base, second base, and third base means that they can shuffle him around the field based on their needs, and they can provide rest days to the older players on the team.

Solano isn’t particularly great anywhere, playing average to below-average defense at those three spots, but since he can play three positions in the infield, he provides some defensive value. The biggest question about whether the Yankees will add the right-handed infielder or not depends on what he asks for in free agency. If the asking price is similar to Kiké Hernández’s $4 million, then I imagine that the Yankees would be able to fit Solano into their budget, even with that 110% tax.

This isn’t a free agent that transforms your lineup or pitching staff, but if something goes wrong, they could have a strong reserve option in Donovan Solano to keep their offense in excellent shape.

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