The New York Yankees sure do have an awful lot of problems for a team that made it all the way to the American League Championship Series. With Aaron Judge potentially leaving the Yankees roster, the New York outfield might look very different in 2023. Meanwhile, the Yankees roster also has quite a few question marks around the infield. Unfortunately, it is hard to identify any one glaring problem, since the Yankees roster actually has quite a few.
The Not So Hot Corner
Josh Donaldson played 104 games at third base in the 2022 season and recorded a fielding percentage of .961, which is three points above his career fielding percentage, and comparable to Jose Ramirez (.970), Nolan Arenado (.968) and Rafael Devers (.964). He also committed 12 errors, which does not even rank in the top 5 highest of his career. Even though he may not have been the best 3rd baseman in the league, it is almost near impossible to sound reasonable when complaining about Donaldson’s defensive contributions.
His hitting, on the other hand, negates almost all defensive benefit. He finished 2022 with probably the worst offensive year of his career with 15 home runs, .222 BA ( lowest of career), .308 OBP (second lowest of career) and 148 strike outs (second highest of career). Also to be noted, none of these stats are counting his 14 game rookie year. Nevertheless, this is unacceptable.
Do the defensive numbers outweigh his offensive struggles and justify keeping him around in 2023? They do not. The Yankees have to free themselves of Donaldson and his massive contract.
The Shaky Shortstop
To be honest, Isiah Kiner-Falefa is a really likable personality easy person to root for. That does not mean, however, that he was a good short stop. While he does make a few fantastic plays, he committed way too many easy errors to even consider keeping him at the position. However, it may not be entirely his fault.
Falefa is a gold glove third baseman, who was asked to play a position that requires a different set of skills. The ultimate problem comes from the Yankees front office trying to make shortstops by relocating other infield position players (remember Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela?).
If Donaldson gets traded, it may be reasonable to believe that returning Falefa to his proven best position would be beneficial to both the Yankees roster and himself from both a baseball and financial standpoint.
You cannot discuss Falefa without addressing the most frustrating part about his season. During the year, Aaron Boone and the Yankees kept communicating to Yankee fans that Falefa is the shortstop they are committed to since they believe he is one of the best in baseball. However, that confidence evaporated in the playoffs. Falefa was both pulled mid-game, and just not started in multiple playoff games after defensive blunders.
So not only did the Yankees lie about their confidence in him, but they let the lie prevent themselves from giving valuable big league playing time to Oswald Peraza, who they must have known was going to be a playoff possibility.
One cannot fathom an explanation that makes sense for this behavior.
The Fallen Prospect
Gleyber Torres needs to be traded. He has shown no sign of being able to revert back to his 2019 form. He is not a fielder nor a bat that can be a difference maker for a Championship team, and he has not been for a few years now. Luckily, Torres recorded his most hits and home runs for himself since 2019, so this is the Yankees best opportunity to trade him for the most potential value in years.
Moving Torres to shortstop is the single most consequential miscalculation in the entire franchise since the 2016 rebuild. Every Yankees roster decision since 2019 was made with the expectation that Torres will be a good offensive and defensive shortstop. He has been none of those.
As a result, Cashman’s entire plan fell apart, and he has had to make countless roster moves to compensate for this (I.e, getting Falefa, shifting DJ LeMahieu’s role to multiple positions instead of the every day 2nd baseman).
Obviously, failing to win a championship requires underachievement on multiple fronts, but I cannot shake the feeling like the Yankees would have been a lot closer, or maybe have actually won, if Gleyber Torres had met expectations.
Which closer would use to win you the World Series?
Let us know your thoughts on the Yankees roster and what changes you would like to see in the infield in the comments below!