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Latest On The Yankees’ Shortstop Battle

Latest On The Yankees' Shortstop Battle

As top prospect Anthony Volpe continues to make a strong case to win the Yankees’ starting shortstop job this spring, Andy Martino of SNY reports that the team are not close to making a decision on who’ll start there on Opening Day.

Volpe, fellow youngster Oswald Peraza, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and to a lesser extent Oswaldo Cabrera have all been in the mix for the shortstop job this spring. The Yankees seemingly prefer Cabrera in a utility role, and the injury to starting center fielder Harrison Bader means he could be called upon for more outfield reps to start the season, so it appears safe to rule him out of the starting job at short.

Kiner-Falefa was the starter for the bulk of the 2022 season, but looks to be headed for more of a utility role himself this season, with the Yankees working him out around the infield, and even giving him starts in the outfield. He’s owed $6MM in his final year of arbitration, and has been speculated as a possible trade candidate given the Yankees’ glut of middle infielders. The Dodgers were one such team thrown around as a possible destination in the wake of Gavin Lux’ injury, but it appears that’s unlikely, with Jon Heyman of the New York Post reporting they’re not interested.

It’s perhaps not surprising that Kiner-Falefa isn’t of interest to the Dodgers. While a $6MM salary is affordable for a team like the Dodgers, it looks steep for a player who only hit for an 85 wRC+ (15 percentage points below the league average), and has a career wRC+ of 82. The team also already has a shortstop in Miguel Rojas, who doesn’t hit a ton, plays decent defense and is owed $5MM in 2023, so it may be that acquiring Kiner-Falefa would just mean bringing in another player who profiles very similar to their in-house option.

In any case, it does appear that Kiner-Falefa is an outsider in the shortstop battle, which leaves it down to Peraza and Volpe. Peraza, 22, is probably the favorite, given he impressed in a short stint in the big leagues last year, hitting .306/.404/.429 across 57 plate appearances and starting in a playoff game. Martino’s report also details how scouts have generally favored Peraza’s glove at short over Volpe’s.

Yet it seems foolish to rule out Volpe. Coming into spring it seemed he was very much a candidate for a mid-season call-up, but probably not an option for Opening Day. He has, after all, only appeared in 22 games at Triple-A. However, the 21-year-old has impressed the team with his…

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