We are simply asking! Because we don’t know! If we had answers, life would be a lot simpler, but it’s never as easy as it should be with the New York Yankees.
Following the trade for Josh Donaldson and the re-signing of Anthony Rizzo, the Bombers’ infield picture became crowded, which is a “good” problem to have … unless the two players in danger of “losing” reps are Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu. How did it come to this?
Well, it’s all because Torres is an incapable shortstop. In fact, as incapable as they come defensively, and that has rubbed off on his offensive game. He was moved back to second base and the team has already seen positive results on both sides of the ball.
Only problem? That might squeeze LeMahieu out of the starting picture … or is Torres actually going to be the bench guy? What is going to happen? Are we to use spring training playing time/success as an indicator?
Are the Yankees really going to overreact to one “down” season from LeMahieu that was hampered by a sports hernia issue?
Or is LeMahieu’s ability to play multiple positions going to affect his standing as a starter? In the end, it’s Torres who should be fighting for playing time after his performance over the last two seasons. LeMahieu out-performed Torres in 2021 despite playing most of the year injured, too.
What’s DJ LeMahieu’s standing with the New York Yankees?
Of course, LeMahieu, being the cool guy that he is, didn’t express any concern over the logjam and is confident he’ll get his at-bats. Manager Aaron Boone echoed that sentiment. A lot of depth, after all, isn’t a bad thing! The Yankees always have plenty of at-bats to go around, as evidenced by Tyler Wade, Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier, Miguel Andújar, Andrew Velazquez and others seeing a lot of time this past season.
But we did get a more candid, down-to-earth response from bench coach Carlos Mendoza, via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com:
"“One of those guys is going to have to sit, and it’s going to be an uncomfortable situation. But we’re having that conversation. We’ve started that conversation with all of them. They understand. DJ’s going to get his at-bats, because of the versatility and who he is.”"
Yup, not going to be “easy.”
So who sits to start the year? The 25-year-old who has regressed in a colossal manner and failed to fulfill the role the Yankees envisioned him in as a future cornerstone … or the 33-year-old veteran who was the team MVP in 2019 and 2020 and has done just about everything that’s been asked of him at the highest level possible?
This spring, LeMahieu has appeared in seven games and Torres has seen eight. Torres is tearing the cover off the ball, though, which has to be intriguing the front office. His power is back (for now), thanks to a 1.053 OPS in 24 plate appearances. On the other hand, LeMahieu is hitting .222 with an .800 OPS in 20 plate appearances.
Are the Yankees going to use spring performance to determine who starts on Opening Day? If they don’t, then they’re faced with the conundrum of benching a 25-year-old potential cornerstone or a guy making $15 million per year.
But this will likely be a worthless discussion, because we know somebody is going to get injured and open up a spot. The first year injuries aren’t ravaging the team in spring training, though, it’s customary for the Yankees to have an unnecessary high-profile position battle with two players who absolutely need as much time on the field as possible.