Any jaded fan watching the inactive Yankees prior to the MLB Lockout currently harbors reservations that they won’t be adding an impact shortstop whenever the ban on transactions is lifted.
But what if — even though we all know they didn’t have someone in place when 2021 ended — they don’t acquire any shortstop?
No Isiah Kiner-Falefa. No Nick Ahmed. No Didi Gregorius.
But … also no Oswaldo Cabrera, Oswald Peraza, Anthony Volpe, or any other top prospect. What exactly are we proposing here?
Down the stretch in 2021, the Yankees used third baseman Gio Urshela at shortstop on occasion, where he was perfectly competent and occasionally spectacular, but still didn’t hit to the level expected of him for most of the year.
On Monday in a private workout, we all got a chance to peek at Urshela and Gleyber Torres working out, with the latter at second (phew) and the former at short.
Could … the Yankees just be planning to enter 2022 with Urshela keeping the seat warm again?
Are the Yankees planning to shift Gio Urshela around in 2022?
If Urshela’s not the shortstop, he bizarrely doesn’t have a place to start in the Bronx entering the season (and … that’s why we’ve hypothetically traded him 100 times already).
We love Urshela as much as the next guy (as long as that “next guy” isn’t Gleyber Torres), but his 96 OPS+ last season left him profiling as more of a utility guy than a penciled-in, 150-game starter, especially with Torres now permanently occupying second base.
DJ LeMahieu, in turn, would probably be the third baseman more often than not, leaving Urshela either at short (seems bad) or on the Merry-Go-Round (arguably worse?).
Defensively, Urshela checked in with a surprisingly poor OAA of -5 at third base last year, pairing his suddenly less-potent bat with a declining glove (though the metrics have never loved him as much as the eye test). If things are getting worse at the hot corner, would Urshela’s numbers with more range to cover at short really be any better?
Perhaps the “next step” here involves a shakeup no one sees coming — for instance, Torres being traded to clear second for DJ LeMahieu while a real young shortstop option is acquired.
For now, we’re left to parse short clips of two close friends working on their chemistry during offseason camp, one at a relatively unfamiliar position after the other went through the ringer there in 2021.