One player who can cover at least four positions, and who’s already taken on the challenge of three different spots in his first three MLB games? The Yankees might have the ultimate budget-saving tool in infielder/outfielder Oswaldo Cabrera. How did they not cash in on this One Weird Trick sooner?!
Cabrera, still just 23 years old and a fast riser who ranks 14th among MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Yankees prospects, reportedly shared this week that he grew up being inspired by Marwin Gonzalez. Considering Cabrera was signed back in 2015 when Gonzalez was only just emerging, it’s safe to assume he was talking about the versatile IF/OF’s 2017 season when he garnered MVP votes en route to a tainted Astros championship.
In that case, it’s very adorable that Gonzalez — hanging onto a Yankees roster spot by a thread — stuck around long enough to be a part of Cabrera’s Yankee experience.
Next season, though, it seems likely the Yankees plan to save a bit of additional cash there, though, and fill the bench’s utility spot with Cabrera instead. Maybe in that case it’ll go back to being a home for what the team envisioned for DJ LeMahieu back in 2019 before he became indispensable. 100 games a year, all around the diamond, and always available to help with defensive changes in the late innings.
Based on Cabrera’s first three games, spent at third base, shortstop, and right field, the team clearly has grand plans for their favorite new toy.
Yankees’ Oswaldo Cabrera will fill 2019 DJ LeMahieu role in 2023
Without Cabrera’s early-season shoulder injury knocking him off course, who knows how much sooner he would’ve arrived in the Bronx? Perhaps he would’ve turned his idol Gonzalez’s roster spot into a more productive piece of the Yankees’ puzzle? As it stands, their incumbent “versatility guy” only plays once every few weeks, while Cabrera seems intent to jet set around the entire diamond by the time his first week is done.
Prior to the campaign, Cabrera stuck out as someone who could become essential with a normal-length spring training to prove himself. Somehow, it was the elder Gonzalez who stole spring headlines instead; Cabrera barely got a chance to show off his power bat.
It’s telling, though, that in need of a spark, the Yankees didn’t just promote Cabrera to play two or three times a week. They didn’t promote him to send Isiah Kiner-Falefa to the bench, either, and un-stop that gap at short. They seemingly added him to do anything and everything, giving breathers to half the tuckered-out roster while immediately changing Aaron Boone’s lineup calculus.
In just a few days’ time, the Yankees have given Cabrera the chance to show off his unique talent (and potentially save them a couple of dollars down the line), and he’s responded with a smacked double that approached 106 MPH exit velocity, as well as a sweet swing from both sides of the plate. Cabrera has been everything, everywhere, all at once, and if the Yankees are going to eventually dig out of their self-made rut, it’ll be in large part because of their newest utility piece making veterans feel more comfortable taking an off day, no matter what part of the diamond they occupy.