Yankees ignoring Braves’ Oswald Peraza blueprint after Vaughn Grissom move

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 10: Vaughn Grissom #18 of the Atlanta Braves walks onto the field before a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 10, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Fluharty/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 10: Vaughn Grissom #18 of the Atlanta Braves walks onto the field before a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 10, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Fluharty/Getty Images) /

If there’s any team the 2022 New York Yankees should be taking lessons from these days, it’s the Atlanta Braves.

Back in the ’90s, it seemed the Yankees’ sole mission was to build an offense that could batter down the Braves’ trio of aces, as well as craft a rotation that could hang with them long enough to turn the game over to the bullpens. This formula worked well in a surprise World Series clash in 1996, as well as an overmatched rematch in ’99.

These days, the Braves are the team with the more recent championship pedigree, thanks in part to two different forms of urgency. Both the Yankees and Braves possessed underwhelming rosters at the 2021 trade deadline. Brian Cashman went big with Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, and the team stabilized and rose, to a certain extent. Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos? He hit on lottery ticket after lottery ticket, targeting players like Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler and Joc Pederson for the specific upgrades they could provide, then watching them flourish and win postseason awards.

This year’s Braves shook off some more early slumping to once again round into juggernaut form by midsummer. Of course, taking a significant lead in the Wild Card race did not tempt them to rest on their laurels. Instead, they surged full-steam ahead, sparking another winning streak with the promotion of top shortstop prospect Vaughn Grissom directly from Double-A (months after also elevating Rookie of the Year frontrunner Michael Harris from the same level).

The Yankees? They, too, have quite a large lead on the rest of their division, though it hasn’t grown in weeks due to lackluster, sparkless play. They’ve got a top prospect shortstop at Triple-A in Oswald Peraza who could fulfill Gerrit Cole’s immediate wishes. They’ve also got Anthony Volpe at Double-A if they want to pursue a more daring varietal of the Braves’ new patented move. Oswaldo Cabrera was reportedly lifted from Triple-A on Wednesday morning, which is an immediate upgrade on Marwin Gonzalez’s currently-dead spot on the roster.

But that’s … not quite the same.

Yankees must follow Braves lead with Oswald Peraza

Not only are the Yankees unwilling to promote their crown jewels, but the Braves just raced even further ahead of them by extending Harris to a hometown discount deal on Tuesday night. And all the more ironically, Grissom made his first appearance rocking the tomahawk in a road game at Fenway Park … and a road win at that.

In the interest of fairness, Grissom’s very short 22-game Double-A stint showed an immediate mastery of the level (.363 with a .924 OPS), something Peraza had to work to attain at Triple-A this summer after a slow start (.300 with a .563 SLG in July).

In the interest of unfairness, though, it’s patently obvious the Yankees are satisfied enough with their AL East lead that they don’t want to touch Peraza until he passes a certain service time threshold on Aug. 20. If they elevate him then, all will have to be uncomfortably forgiven, even as their morals end up on stark display.

Until the moment of Peraza’s promotion, though, everything about the Yankees’ strategy feels timid and rings hollow. Did fans invent the idea of Isiah Kiner-Falefa as a “stopgap” shortstop, or was that not the intention? If Peraza (and Volpe) aren’t good enough to play now, why were they too good to be dealt for a difference-making ace, before everything collapsed?

And what good is one of the Yankees’ veterans telling the media a “spark” is needed if that spark is currently roaming Pennsylvania in a bus?

The Atlanta Braves fundamentally changed their 2021 season by targeting all the right value moves at the deadline instead of surrendering names like Grissom and Harris in the interest of Gallo-like redundancy.

The Atlanta Braves fundamentally changed their 2022 season, too, by promoting both players at the exact moment the roster needed them most.

Brian Cashman’s Yankees, on the other hand, are well-versed in the first part of the equation (holding prospects), but can’t seem to leave their finger on the pulse long enough to figure out when it’s time to play their cards. Even as Atlanta’s young core screams the answer up the coast.