MLB Players Who Are Switching Positions in 2023

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In baseball video games, players usually decrease in rating when they are moved to positions other than their primary ones. In real life, moving a player can be a blessing or a curse. Some players slide over and become Gold Glove players. Other players spend a brief time before moving back to their original position because the situation was so dire.

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Craig Kimbrel

Let’s take a look at the handful of MLB players who are slated to play at new positions in 2023.

Note: Positional designations were taken from FanGraphs and are subject to change. These are players who have played (or perhaps even started) at a certain position, but it was not their primary position in 2022.

Moving to First Base

Jonathan Aranda, Rays

Andrew Vaughn, White Sox

Jake Cronenworth, Padres

Alex Kirilloff, Twins

LaMonte Wade Jr. Giants

The common thread with these five players is the departure of the teams’ primary first basemen in 2022. Respectively, Ji-Man Choi, Jose Abreu, Eric Hosmer/Josh Bell/Brandon Drury, Luis Arraez, and Brandon Belt left in free agency or were traded away.

First base may be regarded as the weakest defensive position, but with the removal of the shift, first basemen will have to cover more ground than they had to in previous years. Out of the five, Cronenworth projects to the position the best as he has played across the infield over the last few years in San Diego. Aranda has only played 32 MLB games, including about one-third of them at first base. The other three have spent some time at first base, but they are moving in from the outfield.

Moving to Second Base

Ha-Seong Kim, Padres

Nico Hoerner, Cubs

Luis Arraez, Marlins

Bryson Stott, Phillies

Brandon Drury, Angels

Kim, Hoerner, and Stott are moving from shortstop to second base to accommodate a high-profile addition to their respective clubs. Arraez split time between positions in 2022, but he is slated to be the Marlins’ full-time second basemen after preparing to be Minnesota’s first basemen before an off-season trade. Drury has primarily played the corner infield slots in recent years, but he has some seasoning at the keystone.

Kim and Hoerner were excellent defenders at shortstop, and one could argue that they should have stayed at shortstop with Xander Bogaerts (second base) and Dansby Swanson (third base) moving from short. Stott was a poor defensive shortstop, but he projects as an above-average defensive second baseman. Arraez has slowly improved his defense, and Drury has been a below-average fielder in his career. Particularly against left-handed hitters, second-base defense will become that much more important without the shift.

Moving to Third Base

Jose Miranda, Twins

Wilmer Flores, Giants

Christopher Morel, Cubs

Miranda is swapping over from first base. Flores is coming over from second base. Morel is coming in from center field. Flores is replacing a departing Evan Longoria while Morel was forced out of center by Cody Bellinger.

Out of the three, Flores has the best shot to stick at third. He is a former shortstop, and he was a primary third baseman in 2016, 2017, and 2021. Miranda only has one season under his belt, but he seemed to play better at third base (0 DRS) than he did at first base (-6 DRS). Morel could turn into a disaster over a full season, however. In just 18 games at the hot corner, Morel posted -3 defensive runs saved.

Moving to Shortstop

Gunnar Henderson, Orioles

Tommy Edman, Cardinals

Joey Wendle, Marlins

Luis Rengifo, Angels

Enrique Hernandez, Red Sox

These five moves are happening for a variety of reasons. Wendle and Hernandez are sliding over to shortstop to replace the departing Miguel Rojas and Xander Bogaerts respectively. Edman split time between second base and shortstop, and he should settle into a slightly more permanent role at shortstop. Rengifo has generally played second base, but he is moving to accommodate the aforementioned Drury at second base.

Henderson played more shortstop than third base in the minors, but he played more third base in his cup of coffee with the Orioles in 2022. He projects as either a great glove at third base or a solid glove at shortstop.

Moving to Left Field

Yordan Alvarez, Astros

Juan Soto, Padres

Taylor Ward, Angels

Aaron Hicks, Yankees

Bryan De La Cruz, Marlins

Kyle Isbel, Royals

Josh Smith, Rangers

Alvarez is unique in that he is moving from being a primary designated hitter to being a primary left fielder. Soto and Ward are swapping corners to accommodate players better suited to play right field. Isbel is also swapping corners, but there was not a motive as clear as Fernando Tatis Jr. or Hunter Renfroe. Hicks and De La Cruz are sliding to the corner from center for Harrison Bader and Jazz Chisholm Jr. Smith is moving from third base back to the outfield.

Out of the seven players moving, De La Cruz is the fascinating one. While he has been a spotty defender in center in his career, the Marlins (at Chisholm’s request) at moving De La Cruz to left field to accommodate a player who has never played in a Major League outfield. De La Cruz is a much better defender in left field, but the Marlins’ defense is pinned on Chisholm playing well.

Moving to Center Field

Trayce Thompson, Dodgers

Drew Waters, Royals

Thompson and Waters are replacing Gold Glove winners in center field as Cody Bellinger and Michael A. Taylor departed. Both have generally been deployed as corner outfielders, but they have the athleticism and tools to play center field.

For Waters, the move to center feels overdue. In the Braves farm system, Waters got plenty of time as a center fielder, but Cristian Pache pushed him to the corners. In Kansas City, Waters was not going to start in center over the former Gold Glover in Taylor. Now 24, Waters will be the guy, finally.

Thompson is a bit strange. He has played more left field and right field as a Big Leaguer, and he will be 32 when the season begins. The Dodgers have other options to play center field, but they seem to prefer Chris Taylor in left field and Mookie Betts in right field. Taylor has played nearly 200 games in center field, and it was his main position in 2021. Betts has one full season in center field (2015), and he played 30 games in center in 2021.

Moving to Right Field

Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres

Aaron Judge, Yankees

George Springer, Blue Jays

Alex Verdugo, Red Sox

Lane Thomas, Nationals

Tyrone Taylor, Brewers

Unlike many of the previous moves, these are largely projected to help a team’s defense. Verdugo and Thomas are swapping corners, but Judge, Springer, and Taylor are moving from center field. Even Tatis is moving from his primary position of shortstop to right field.

Tatis is the wild card of the bunch. He spent the first two years of his career playing exclusively shortstop, but in his third season, he played a few games in the outfield. He missed all of last season with an injury and a suspension, and the Padres acquired Xander Bogaerts in free agency. Playing in the outfield should help Tatis’ throwing inaccuracy and should help preserve his often-injured shoulder because there are fewer arm angles to throw from.

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Ryan Potts is an avid football and baseball fan. He covers the NFL and Major League Baseball, focusing on the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Braves.