Last offseason, there was a legitimate belief the New York Yankees were placing far too much pressure on top shortstop prospects Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe after passing on Round 1 of the star-studded shortstop free agent class.
But things change. Here we are a little over a year later, and Peraza and Volpe got another year of development under their belts while the Yankees bowed out of High-Priced Shortstop Free Agency Round 2. Their decision to do that is much different than after the 2021 season.
And no evidence is perhaps more convincing than what the Houston Astros did in 2022. The now-defending World Series champions let Carlos Correa go, replaced him with rookie Jeremy Peña, and once again stand atop the baseball world … thanks to Peña!
The 25-year-old won ALCS and World Series MVP this year as the Astros hardly felt Correa’s departure — a loss that most other teams would suffer greatly from.
The only valid argument for those who believe the Yankees’ decision making is hurting Volpe or Peraza is that the New York market/media is much more unforgiving than anywhere else. But are you really going to factor that into how you’re formulating your long-term plans?
The Astors and Jeremy Peña proved there isn’t too much pressure on Yankees prospects
Also … the whole “pressure” argument is funny because those same fans constantly complain about the Yankees not showing enough faith in their top prospects. So which is it? Though, we will say, this is a tad more nuanced because it’s the shortstop position in New York. It’s not as black and white as some might think.
There’s inherent pressure with being a top prospect in the Yankees’ organization. There’s an inherent pressure being a first-round pick or a top international signing. There’s an inherent pressure playing the most important position on the field. Yes, it’s magnified in New York. But that doesn’t mean shielding players from what’s to come is the prudent decision.
Heading into 2023, Peraza gave us a preview of his capabilities in some MLB action late last season. Volpe was told by general manager Brian Cashman that he’ll have a chance to win the Opening Day job after his impressive stint between Double-A and Triple-A last year (his second full season in the farm system).
If you said last year that the Yankees were wrong to pass on the top shortstop free agents only to elevate one of their developing, raw top prospects to the big-league roster, almost everybody would’ve agreed with you.
But to sing the same tune two years in a row, after we saw Peña (who wasn’t in MLB’s top-100 prospects heading into 2022) seamlessly replace Correa as well as Peraza and Volpe take the next step in their developmental process (with the Yankees’ plan slowing rounding into form), is irresponsible.