What Anthony Volpe’s call-up means for other Yankees middle infielders
On Sunday, the New York Yankees announced that their No. 1 prospect, Anthony Volpe, had made the Opening Day roster. Throughout the offseason, the Yankees publicly and privately discussed the team's shortstop competition between Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Oswald Peraza and Volpe.
Heading into Spring Training, Volpe was seen as having an outside chance of making the Yankees Opening Day roster because he'd only played 22 games in Triple-A, while Kiner-Falefa is a five-year veteran and Peraza made his MLB debut last season.
However, with his performance on and off the field during Spring Training, the soon-to-be 22-year-old earned his role on the Yankees' Opening Day roster. Volpe is expected to take over as the everyday shortstop, which is certain to affect the team’s other middle infielders.
How Anthony Volpe's promotion affects Yankees' other infielders
Instead of opting to sign Carlos Correa or Corey Seager before the 2022 season, Brian Cashman chose to stand pat for the early offseason and through the lockout. When the offseason began again in mid-March, he acquired Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson from the Minnesota Twins to shore up the left side of the Yankee infield.
Kiner-Falefa was durable in his first season in pinstripes, playing in 142 games, but he didn’t play at the highest level. At the plate, Kiner-Falefa hit for a fine .261 batting average, but his lack of power resulted in him being a 15% below-average hitter with 85 weighted Runs Created + (wRC+).
Defensively, Defensive Runs Saved was fond of his work at shortstop with 10 DRS, but Statcast's Outs Above Average rated Kiner-Falefa in the 17th percentile with -2 OAA, and he definitely didn’t pass the eye test – especially in the Postseason, when he was benched.
After March 9, the last day Kiner-Falefa played shortstop in Spring Training, it appeared he had already been ruled out of contention to be the Yankees' Opening Day shortstop. Throughout Spring Training, the Yankees have played Kiner-Falefa all across the infield and outfield, so it appears he’ll be used as a utility player with limited use at shortstop in 2023 -- or traded to another team.