We’ve talked plenty about what the Yankees might be doing in left field for the 2023 season. But what about shortstop? We knew New York wanted to let its top prospects earn playing time, while also putting some veteran middle infielders on the trade market.
Randy Miller of NJ.com provided a little more clarity on what the Yankees’ plan might be at shortstop with Spring Training fast approaching. And for those who don’t want to see Isiah Kiner-Falefa man the position on a daily basis in 2023, don’t worry. It’s sounding like that would be New York’s backup plan.
While IKF is under contract for $6 million in his last year before hitting free agency, Oswald Peraza appears to have an inside track at being the Yankees’ Opening Day shortstop. He spent 99 games in Triple-A last season, and he produced a .259/.329/.448 triple slash with a 106 wRC+. This also included 19 home runs, 50 RBI, 57 runs scored, and 33 stolen bases. The 22-year-old wasn’t overwhelmed in 18 big-league games, either. Peraza hit .306/.404/.429, producing a 146 wRC+ and 0.4 fWAR in just 57 plate appearances.
Heck, the Yankees even trusted him enough to start one postseason game at shortstop after IKF couldn’t stop booting the ball.
Oswaldo Cabrera is another top prospect who is capable of playing at shortstop. But depending on what happens, he could be playing a lot of left field for New York in 2023.
According to Miller, the other legitimate threat to Peraza beginning the year as the starting shortstop is the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect, Anthony Volpe.
Volpe, a 21-year-old, spent time in both Double-A and Triple-A last season. He put up some solid offensive numbers, including 21 homers, 65 RBI, and 50 (!) steals. The top prospect is likely ticketed for more minor-league seasoning to begin 2023. After all, he only played 22 games in Triple-A. But, the Yankees aren’t ruling out the possibility of him proving he’s ready to go.
Here’s what manager Aaron Boone told YES Network’s Jack Curry about it (quotes via NJ.com):
Obviously, we’re really excited about Anthony Volpe and think he’s going to be a really good player for us for a lot of years. And we’ll see him in spring training, He’s going to get a lot of reps. He hasn’t had a lot of Triple-A time yet, but you never know. He could still kick the door in and force the onus on us.
In case Peraza doesn’t perform well in Spring Training and Volpe needs more time in the minors, Boone is still touting his man, IKF:
With IKF, we feel like we have a guy capable of being a starting big-league shortstop. He could also fit in from a versatility standpoint with all he brings to the table moving positions. But we’ll let that shake out throughout the spring training. And then it continues to show itself throughout the season.
The Yankees’ intentions of “letting the kids play” don’t appear to have changed. If all goes according to plan, at least one of them will grab a starting job. IKF could end up in a utility role, but one would imagine New York wants to find a trade partner for him and/or Gleyber Torres to create a simpler path to consistent playing time.
As long as Peraza performs the way the Yankees think he will during camp, one thing looks certain: the IKF experience as New York’s starting shortstop will be over.