Buried in Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner’s latest bout of platitudes and injury excuse-making on the YES Network Hot Stove show was an interesting nugget about his intentions in the middle infield.
Of course, just like with any other Steinbrenner gift, this present to Yankee fans came with a return receipt in the form of a caveat, which became obvious after a few seconds of somber analysis.
New York entered the 2021-22 offseason with one clear goal in mind, at least in the eyes of the team’s fans: take advantage of an historic shortstop market in free agency. Prospects are nice, but prospects be damned; when a team with an astronomical budget has the chance to secure the services of Carlos Correa, Corey Seager or Trevor Story, they go out and do it.
Instead, the Yankees passed on their singular stated goal (Cashman said!) and watched Correa fall to the Twins, Story defect to the Sox, and Seager’s hard-to-swallow salary head to Texas, which is swiftly becoming more of a destination in the rumor mill than New York. Hard to justify.
If the Yankees don’t plan to spend to fill the void (ignore that Josh Donaldson money…), they had better hope that either Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe will be a long-term solution at the position. The “loser” of the shortstop competition sliding to second base would also be pretty excellent.
Luckily, Steinbrenner seems to agree, and stated that his goal for the upcoming season is to watch both Peraza and Volpe man the middle infield. Excellent!
Oh … wait … of course he said that. It’s the cheapest possible option!
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner wants to start Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza together … but at what cost? A cheap one!
"Steinbrenner said that “it’s certainly my intent” to field Peraza and Volpe in the middle infield.“We’re very excited about Peraza, Volpe, and we saw what Cabrera can do,” Steinbrenner said. “We’re excited about some very young people. They’re going to get playing time. We’ll see how it works out in Spring Training.”"
Peraza, Volpe, and Oswaldo Cabrera should all be massive parts of the New York Yankees’ plan moving forward, in 2023 and beyond.
However, that doesn’t mean they should shirk spending in free agency when the time arrives. Supplement good players with more good players. Flex your unique financial muscles requisite with Steve Cohen’s crosstown flexing.
The current approach — waiting out free agency to carve out a path for sustainable production from rookies/future rookie extensions, only to not extend those rookies — isn’t work. Peraza performed well in a limited sample size in 2022, and Volpe seems even more special. Both should be given the maximum amount of opportunity to succeed, something Aaron Judge was not afforded when the Yankees slashed payroll $30 million between his dynamite rookie season and second year.
Volpe and Peraza together could be great. But promoting them in tandem could cause the Yankees’ monkey’s paw to curl another finger, further restricting spending at a crucial time.