Yankees’ veteran infielder is set to begin rehab assignment on Friday

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

The New York Yankees might be getting some reinforcements soon, as DJ LeMahieu is nearing a potential return to live game action. According to Gary Phillips of the New York Daily News, the veteran infielder said that he’s going to begin his rehab assignment on Friday in Somerset. The New Jersey county hosts the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate, and it makes sense to have him there since it’s the closest drive to Yankee Stadium and is a high enough level where LeMahieu can expect to get productive reps for his development.

It’s not intended to be a lengthy assignment either, although this does raise some interesting questions regarding what the Yankees will choose to do at third base with the red-hot Oswaldo Cabrera.

DJ LeMahieu Set to Begin Rehab Assignment Friday, Yankees 3B Logjam

MLB: Spring Training-Miami Marlins at New York Yankees
Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The third base position is expected to get quite the lift, as DJ LeMahieu will begin his rehab assignment on Friday for a quick ramp-up before joining the team. While he’s in Somerset getting in-game action, the Yankees will begin a homestand that starts with the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night. They’re flying high after a come-from-behind win against the Toronto Blue Jays, as they rallied late in the ninth inning to put up four runs and avoid a sweep.

Sitting atop the American League East at 13-6, the Yankees have gotten a great deal of production from switch-hitting infielder Oswaldo Cabrera. It’s still very early into the season, but Oswaldo Cabrera has been one of the team’s best hitters, and that creates an interesting dilemma for the Yankees. Slashing .309/.350/.545 with a 158 wRC+ across 60 plate appearances, seeing an improvement in his plate discipline and contact rates.

The underlying metrics don’t love him, but his increasing Sweet Spot Rate and ability to pull the ball in the air have made him a strong bat to round the bottom half of the order. Furthermore, his excellent from the left-handed side adds an advantage against tough right-handed pitchers, where DJ LeMahieu has struggled mightily over the last year.

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

His 72nd Percentile Sprint Speed also makes him an interesting player to help you on the basepaths, and the biggest change has come with his much-improved Whiff Rate. Cutting it down by over 7% from last year, he’s gotten his xwOBACON up to around his 2022 metrics, and that season he posted a 113 wRC+ and looked like the hitter we hoped he’d be after that rookie campaign. He’s likely due for some regression eventually, but right now he’s the hot hand and has seemingly improved his process at the plate as he’s gotten more run in the lineup.

Do the Yankees sit him while he’s hot when DJ LeMahieu comes back, or do they sit down the far more established Gleyber Torres, who is in the midst of a pretty nasty slump to open the year? It’s a difficult call to make, but going with both LeMahieu and Torres over Cabrera is defensible given their better track record of success and the small sample size we’re working off of for Oswaldo. Personally, I think Cabrera has some legitimate offensive skills at the plate, and if he’s legit he’ll force the Yankees’ hand.

Regardless of what you think about DJ LeMahieu, he does improve your infield depth chart, providing the Yankees some length in the lineup. It also seems Anthony Volpe would remain the leadoff hitter based on some of Aaron Boone’s comments from earlier this week.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: