Yankees still undecided on their starting third baseman

MLB: Wildcard-Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies, yankees
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The Yankees are set to take on the Houston Astros on opening day Thursday afternoon, but they still haven’t decided on their starting third baseman to open the year.

With DJ LeMahieu suffering a significant bruise on his right foot, the Yankees originally planned for Oswaldo Cabrera to replace him, but the team acquired veteran infielder Jon Berti on Wednesday, reinforcing the hot corner with a solid player.

The Yankees Are Still Trying To Decide Who the Starter Will Be

First and foremost, Cabrera, 25, has had a polarizing spring training, hitting .213/.302/.362, including two homers and three RBIs. His numbers have started to tick up recently, but the Yankees are a bit concerned about his efficiency in the batter’s box, and they want more upside. Fortunately, Berti offers them slightly better production.

Oswaldo may get the start on Thursday, but if he struggles, they will likely transition to Berti quickly. Last season, he played 133 games with the Miami Marlins, hitting .294/.344/.405, including seven homers, 33 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases. He has top-end speed and posted the best batting average in his career last season, so clearly, the Yankees see some value in his bat.

In addition, he’s been a solid defensive player over the past few years, playing second base, third base, and shortstop when called upon. In fact, he also has 577 innings in the outfield, so he brings a ton of versatility.

At third base specifically, he has 1050.1 innings of experience, hosting a .960 percentage, including five defensive runs and two outs above average. Overall, he may even be better defensively on the corner than Cabrera, so if he’s ready to go, the Yankees may plug him in immediately.

This spring, Berti has enjoyed 14 games, hitting .229/.325/.371, including one homer and six RBIs. Based on his wRC+ of 91, he’s been 11% better than Cabrera, so there is a clear-cut narrative to build that he is the better alternative for now.

Many were waiting for the Bombers to acquire an infielder to support the team, and Berti made perfect sense at an extremely cheap price point, costing the Yankees’ 18-year-old outfield prospect John Cruz. Many were excited about Cruz and his upside, but at just 18, he wouldn’t have seen an MLB field for the next four seasons, at least.

The Yankees already have Jasson Dominguez and Spencer Jones ready to make the transition, so they can afford to part ways with one prospect in exchange for a player who will make an immediate impact this year.

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