Yankees’ utility man is fighting his way into an everyday role

Syndication: Arizona Republic, yankees, oswaldo cabrera
Michael Chow/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Yankees are patiently waiting for DJ LeMahieu to rejoin the team after he fouled a ball off his right foot several weeks ago and sustained a significant bruise. LeMahieu traveled with the team to Cleveland and plans to attend the next series against Toronto, but there’s no guarantee that he will immediately slide back into the lineup.

In DJ’s absence, the Yankees have leaned on Jon Berti and Oswaldo Cabrera. The latter has been red hot to start the season, and there’s no reason to take him out of the batting order at his current pace.

Even though LeMahieu is traditionally a better offensive player and a solid defender on the hot corner, Cabrera’s production makes it difficult to put them on the bench.

Yankees Are Getting Extrodinatory Value From Oswaldo Cabrera

Over 11 games, the 25-year-old is hitting .317/.378/.585, including three homers and 11 RBIs. He hosts a 22.2% strikeout rate, 8.9% walk rate, and an impressive 181 wRC+. With those offensive metrics, there’s no reason for Cabrera to be sitting on any given day, despite the fact that Berti has gotten more opportunities recently.

During Saturday’s doubleheader, Cabrera produced two hits, including a double and a two-run homer, collecting three RBIs between both games. That level of production at the bottom half of the order is luxury, and Cabrera’s improvements are starting to emerge after an inconsistent spring performance.

Cabrera featured -0.8 WAR last season, but he’s already up to 0.4 WAR over just 11 games, suggesting he’s well on pace to smash his record of 1.4 in 2022.

Defensively, Cabrera has been a bit inconsistent at third, posting .889 with -1 defensive run saved and -2 outs above average. The Yankees may decide to move him off the position due to that variable, which would suggest LeMahieu takes over his regular starting role.

If the Yankees don’t feel that Cabrera can be their everyday third baseman, he will likely fall right back into his utility spot, where he can help supplement deficiencies in both the infield and outfield. That is certainly not a bad place for him to be, but the team needs to continue maximizing his production and riding the hot hand until they have no choice but to make a change.

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