Nope, not Anthony Volpe. Nope, not Oswald Peraza. Could the New York Yankees have another scenario up their sleeve to buy some time at the shortstop position in 2022?
Let’s safely assume the high-priced free agency and trade options are off the table (because they probably are). Let’s say the Yankees give into the outside pressure and opt against signing one of the awful veteran stopgap options. Other scenarios exist (like trading for Matt Chapman and moving Gio Urshela to short), but remember, some money has to come off the books and others have to be traded. There’s no guarantee Urshela survives.
If that’s indeed what happens, or if Urshela simply remains at third base, and there are no viable shortstop options the Yankees deem worthwhile, who’s to say Oswaldo Cabrera won’t be the starting shortstop on Opening Day as things get sorted out?
At this point, it’s very possible he makes the 40-man roster as a utility player (he has extensive experience at shortstop, second base and third base), but if the Yankees like his defense and bat that much, why not roll him out as the starter at shortstop and see what happens?
We’re not exactly endorsing this, but we’d certainly rather a gutsy move like this instead of signing Andrelton Simmons. Or trading for Nick Ahmed. Or playing Chapman at shortstop when he’s a full-time third baseman.
Cabrera, though he’s only gotten a little bit of time at Triple-A, hit .272 with an .863 OPS, 29 homers, 89 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 118 games. If he shows promise at spring training, why wouldn’t you want that kind of potential impact taking over a vacant position?
Could Oswaldo Cabrera be the Yankees’ Opening Day starter at shortstop?
The fact of the matter is if the Yankees aren’t going after Carlos Correa or Trevor Story, they won’t have an elite all-around shortstop. On the flip side, however, anything is better than what Gleyber Torres did across 2020 and 2021. He provided almost no offense and detrimental defense.
New York’s going to want an offensive and defensive asset at the position and Cabrera’s trajectory may offer that, at least in the short term. And if he fails, the Yankees can always easily make a trade for a defensive wizard to hold down the fort until Volpe or Peraza are ready.
Another positive here? Cabrera can either establish himself as an asset or build his trade value (and will be as cheap as possible), which will help the Yankees find a role for him sooner than they had expected or allow them to make him a centerpiece in some packages before the July deadline.
Cabrera’s seen 159 games at short during his minor league career and has made 32 errors (an average of one every five games). Not bad. The concern, however, is with his bat, because this was the first season since 2016 that he recorded more than eight home runs, 56 RBI and 10 stolen bases. From 2017-2019, he didn’t OPS above .687.
The iron’s hot with the 22-year-old at the moment. We’ve seen crazier rebounds and ascensions. And if he continues he surge post-lockout, he might emerge as a possible option, even if the Yankees sign a veteran stopgap option … because who’s to say he won’t out-perform them in spring training?