Yankees sign versatile infielder to MiLB free agent deal

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at San Francisco Giants
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have continued to remain active on the free agent market as they bring in Josh VanMeter for their Minor League depth. He won’t occupy a spot on the 40-man roster and instead will serve as Triple-A depth for the team in the situation where they have a myriad of injury issues. VanMeter was a former fifth-round pick by the San Diego Padres out of high school, and the 28-year-old infielder has bounced around from organization to organization since debuting back in 2019.

In MLB career, he has a .206/.293/.347 slashline through 300 games, and spent this past season in Triple-A with the Brewers, where he posted a .400 OBP.

Yankees Continue to Add to MiLB Depth

MLB: Spring Training-Milwaukee Brewers at Los Angeles Dodgers
Mar 24, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Josh VanMeter (16) reacts after an out against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth inning at Camelback Ranch-Glendale. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Josh VanMeter is a patient hitter who relies on a high walk rate to get on base and generate value at the plate but has struggled to hit for a high enough average due to poor game power and a lack of an elite hit tool. He’s a versatile infielder who can play both the outfield and infield, even catching an inning for the Pirates back in 2022. VanMeter also has experience at shortstop although that has come exclusively at the Minor League levels.

There aren’t many outstanding physical traits in his profile, lacking a dominant power or speed tool, but his versatility makes him valuable as depth. The Yankees have displayed an interest in adding Minor League depth over the past few months, adding various players for both their outfield and infield, and this is another addition to this list. As the Yankees continue to shuffle their roster, they could move some infielders in their MiLB system, most notably Oswald Peraza.

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals
Oct 1, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Oswald Peraza (91) bats against the Kansas City Royals during the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

While discussions about trading Oswald Peraza haven’t surfaced, it’s clear that the team doesn’t view him as a starter at third base for now. DJ LeMahieu was announced as the starting third baseman by manager Aaron Boone, and Gleyber Torres is the perceived second baseman, although some talks have floated about potentially moving him. Given the Yankees’ offensive struggles, keeping Torres in their best interest, they might not have enough playing time to develop Peraza.

They aren’t forced to deal him due to a fourth MiLB option that he qualified for, and he could start the season in Triple-A, but with the Yankees lurking for pitching depth on both the free agent and trade market, a trade of Peraza could make sense. Teams like the Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants have been vocal about their pursuits for middle infield talent, and while the Yankees can’t expect an impact pitcher for Peraza, they could get bullpen or MiLB depth in return.

Josh VanMeter isn’t expected to fill a significant role on the roster and isn’t on the team’s 40-man roster, but as injuries and trades occur, things can shake out for him to potentially get MLB reps. The Yankees have relied on MiLB depth in the past, with names like Jake Bauers and Billy McKinney spending time in Scranton before being placed on the 40-man roster and promoted in times of need.

Whether the Yankees get more out of VanMeter or not remains to be seen, but it’s a depth signing with little implication on playing time at the MLB level.