Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

On paper, the New York Yankees infield sounds pretty good.

DJ LeMahieu is a two-time batting champion and top-tier glove at three infield positions. Anthony Volpe’s Gold Glove at shortstop makes up for his streaky second-year bat. Gleyber Torres and Anthony Rizzo aren’t perfect, but durable and consistent enough to draw regular starts.

Except after a stunning series loss to the rival Boston Red Sox last weekend, New York’s infield’s flaws can’t be brushed aside anymore. It’s deteriorated to the point where it is now June 17, one month out from the All-Star Break, and 75% of the Yankees’ infield is unreliable. Perhaps even terrible.

Granted, this isn’t a problem that needs to be fixed immediately and with a greater sense of urgency than catching the downtown 4 at rush hour. The Yankees are still first in the AL East and lead rival Baltimore by 1.5 games ahead of a key three-game set in the Bronx.

More importantly, even with so many flaws in the lineup, the Yankees still own the best record in baseball! Just a few things to consider before immediately reverting to 2022-related PTSD and the second-half near-collapse. Also, another reminder: Juan Soto.

The circumstances, though valid, don’t negate the concerns. New York is still 9-10 against the AL East in 2024, and the division is nowhere near as competitive as years past. Toronto and Tampa Bay are practically rebuilding and the Red Sox overachieve thanks to Alex Cora.

Add the Orioles not showing any signs of slowing down, and it’s time for change. LeMahieu is batting .188 with an awful 56 wRC+ and looks old and slow after missing two months with a broken foot. Torres’ strikeout rate is up nearly ten points compared to last season.

Rizzo, meanwhile, continues to struggle with timing at the plate and could soon hit the injured list with what the team is calling a “right lower arm injury.”

It’s not an easy fix. Not for manager Aaron Boone and certainly not general manager Brian Cashman. That isn’t to say there’s zero room for adjustments, there’s plenty there. But there is no one quick and easy solution to fixing the Yankees’ infield woes.

We’ll break it down by position, and quickly establish that Oswaldo Cabrera is best-suited as a super utility player. He’s good for a couple of starts a week, maybe a late-game pinch-hitting or running appearance. Not to say he’s the last resort option, except he is.

Let’s start with Rizzo and first base. The easy internal answer is to promote the surging Ben Rice. He’s batting .275 with 15 homers in 60 games across Double and Triple-A, splitting time between first base and catching. Rizzo is nearing 35 and on an expiring contract, so this opportunity really is Rice’s to lose.

Second and third base aren’t so easy. LeMahieu has two years and $30 million remaining on his deal beyond this year, and also has ten-and-five rights. The Yankees cannot trade him without his approving it first, and his numbers don’t make him an attractive trade piece anyway.

Torres’ expiring contract makes him slightly easier to move but again, his stats won’t entice other teams. Cashman’s only option is to point to Torres’ struggles, namely batting .222 with an 85 wRC+, and sell the deal as him “needing a change of scenery,” if you will.

Who steps in for Torres, then? Don’t be so quick to say Oswald Peraza, who’s batting just .173 in the minors since coming back from a shoulder strain. Worse yet, no other middle infield prospects have stepped up to the point of MLB consideration.

That leaves the trade market, but who stands out there? Willy Adames is probably the best of the rentals, but will Cashman put him at second base for the first time since 2018?

Maybe he plays the long game and trades for someone who isn’t just a rental. He could re-engage the Padres for someone like Ha-Seong Kim, or go for versatility again with the Cardinals’ Tommy Edman.

It’s like we’ve been saying. There is no quick-and-easy solution.

Yankees fans panicking about losing to Boston won’t like it, but perhaps the best thing the Yankees can do is stand pat. It’s worth more to hope both LeMahieu and Torres turn it around than it is to try and force a fix out of thin air.

Plus, the Yankees are still MLB’s best. The infield is a problem, but not quite an emergency.


Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.