3 Yankees position battles that could result in trades before 2022 season
2. Gio Urshela vs DJ LeMahieu vs … Luke Voit?
A no holds barred triple-threat to determine who leaves New York! First one pinned is sent out the door! If that were actually the case, Voit would be back in pinstripes after a few chokeslams through a table.
But this is where things get a little wonky. The Yanks have DJ LeMahieu under contract for $75 million over the next five years. He’s simply not going anywhere after the subpar campaign that was affected by a core muscle injury in 2021. There needs to be room for him somewhere, which isn’t easy after Gleyber Torres shifted back over to second base.
So that leaves first base and third base open for the veteran. At first base, Voit is the current starter, but it’s clear he won’t be here in 2022, whether that means LeMahieu becomes the starter (don’t want that!) or the Yankees chase an upgrade in Freddie Freeman or Matt Olson. The Yankees soured on Voit after his injury troubles last year and further fractured the relationship by trading for Anthony Rizzo and not playing Voit despite the fact he was healthy and there was an opportunity to insert him as the DH.
Instance No. 1: LeMahieu shows the Yankees impressive defensive chops at first base, Voit is traded, they figure out shortstop/third base with someone else, and pass on Freeman/Olson/Rizzo. Don’t think this is very likely.
Then we have Urshela, who’s been rumored to become the team’s next starting shortstop? Utility man? Trade bait? What happened to him just playing third base … where he’s pretty damn good? It’s not entirely clear, but the narrative has switched in a sense and that leaves many fans asking questions.
If LeMahieu shows he can play a capable (everyday) third base and the Yankees prefer a stopgap shortstop option, one of their top prospects, or maybe a monster one- or two-year contract for Trevor Story, that could result in Urshela being traded for assets to improve another area of the roster. In this scenario, the Yankees could also theoretically upgrade in a big way at first base and ship out Voit, too.
It’s very possible both the futures of Voit and Urshela are somewhat dependent on LeMahieu, which is wild to think about.