3 roster changes Yankees could make ahead of ALCS vs Houston

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The New York Yankees have done it. They’ve won a postseason series against a team other than the Minnesota Twins!

Alright, alright, get your jokes out, but New York came from nowhere after gagging at the end of Game 3 of the ALDS against the Guardians, with Gerrit Cole propelling them off the mat in Game 4 and Nestor Cortes getting things to the bullpen two days later to secure the comeback.

Not that there weren’t bumps along the way, though. Isiah Kiner-Falefa lost his stranglehold on the shortstop gig after his Game 3 blunders, but found himself back at the position towards the end of Game 5, experiencing the ripple effects of Aaron Hicks’ collision in the third inning.

Hicks will miss the resulting ALCS after being sent to the hospital for further tests on his leg issue during Tuesday’s game. The veteran’s inclusion on the ALDS roster was a bit of a surprise in and of itself, and while he wants to avenge the 2017 and 2019 ALCS more than anyone (and was actually there to witness those games), he will be rehabbing during this year’s clash with an injury that takes six weeks to heal.

That leaves a roster spot “up for grabs” headed into a battle where the Yankees will not be favored. The team’s sudden lack of confidence in Kiner-Falefa likely dictates how the open space will be filled, too.

3 roster moves Yankees could try for ALCS vs Houston Astros

ARLINGTON, TX – OCTOBER 3: Oswald Peraza #91 of the New York Yankees fields a ball off the bat of Nathaniel Lowe #30 of the Texas Rangers during the fourth inning at Globe Life Field on October 3, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /

3. Oswald Peraza’s Chance?

OK, there’s no way to put it nicely: how does Oswald Peraza possibly get kept off this roster moving forward?

Oswaldo Cabrera finally showed some funky tendencies in left field this series, but looked excellent at short — except, probably not coincidentally, the one time he was forced into left field to chase a bloop. Without Hicks, though, the left field options are … Cabrera, Tim Locastro, Marwin González, or (we hope) Matt Carpenter.

Andrew Benintendi, for as valiantly as he tried to return, reportedly felt pain swinging this week and is extremely unlikely to join the Yankees for this series. Shame. Would be really nice to have him.

With the increased likelihood of Cabrera playing more left field moving forward, though, the Yankees need a better backup plan for Kiner-Falefa at short than “Marwin, and Maybe We Make Gleyber Uncomfortable?”. It’s got to be Peraza.

Even if they won’t start him — and they should, as he hit .306 down the stretch with a 139 OPS+ and fielded beautifully — he has to be on this roster, especially since Cabrera’s versatility might’ve just gotten neutered.