Here's how Anthony Volpe can upend Yankees' infield situation with impressive spring
Anthony Volpe is planning on doing his best to force the New York Yankees' hand in spring training. Initially, he was supposed to take a break at the start of this offseason after a grueling two years in the minor leagues that saw him jump from Single-A to Triple-A, but once he learned he'd be in the running for the 2023 Opening Day starting shortstop job, all bets were off.
Volpe started his offseason training early and reported to the Yankees' facility in Tampa back in November to get a head start. He's gotten rave reviews from manager Aaron Boone and hitting coach Dillon Lawson. He knows he's on the cusp of the bigs after his late-season promotion to Scranton.
Though there's an argument to be had for the 21-year-old requiring a bit more refinement at the minors' highest level, Volpe's rebuttal could come in the form of a dominant showing in spring training.
So what if that happens? What if he impresses and the Yankees finally decide to make a bold decision with one of their most promising talents in what feels like forever? How could Volpe upend the MLB roster's infield situation?
All of Josh Donaldson, Gleyber Torres, Oswald Peraza, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and DJ LeMahieu would be affected in some way.
If Anthony Volpe makes the Yankees' Opening Day roster, what happens?
Let's start with the most pressing question. Where would Volpe play? Is he the starting shortstop? Oswald Peraza has already made an impact at the MLB level there and figures to be the favorite heading into the 2023 season.
Unless, of course, Volpe's ascension is inarguable, which results in a position switch for Peraza (second or third base) or even a trade (the Yankees might now need starting pitching after the Frankie Montas injury and surgery rumors).
Both Peraza and Volpe have limited experience outside of shortstop. Volpe's played two minor-league games at second base and three at third base. Peraza has seen 16 total games at second base between the minors and MLB and zero at third. Maybe the Yankees feel comfortable with one of them playing second ... which would squeeze out someone like Gleyber Torres.
Torres is the lone true trade asset the Yankees possess that they could afford to part with in such a situation. Donaldson and IKF don't have value, and DJLM probably isn't going anywhere. Should the Yankees move Torres if Volpe or Peraza take over at second base, they'd still have insurance in the form of IKF and DJ being able to log defensive reps at the position. Truth be told, Torres would have to be traded in this scenario, unless the Yankees opt to integrate Volpe into the lineup from the bench to begin the season. But still, we don't see a world in which Torres is accepting a deemphasized role as he continues to get jerked around by the team. So this might be Option 1.
Then there are the more preferable moves of trading Donaldson or IKF for ... whatever they can get. Salary relief. Lottery ticket prospects. Who cares? Freeing up a utility role or the full-time third base position (without conflict) for DJ would be gigantic. Trade Donaldson, give IKF the utility role and DJ third base. Trade IKF, give DJ the utility role and put Donaldson on the bench as often as you possibly can while finding reps for DJ at second and first base, too.
Packaging Torres with one of Donaldson or IKF could make life easier for the Yankees on the trade market and would help them clear a lot of salary. Is that preferable? Not entirely, but paying a combined ~$35 million for part-timers isn't the best use of money. Either that, or package Torres with Hicks in a deal with another team, which would help get rid of money the Yankees can spend more wisely. That could make room for the eventual arrival of Everson Pereira (or maybe Spencer Jones).
All this is to say that Volpe disrupting the infield picture would be a positive development because it would coerce general manager Brian Cashman into making a move he's apparently felt uncomfortable with ever since fans started voicing their displeasure about Donaldson, IKF and Hicks. The possibilities seem endless, but there's no doubt one of these moves will be imperative (and should be caefully made) should Volpe be selected to make the Opening Day roster.