After coming within one game of the AL pennant in 2017, the New York Yankees have further improved their roster by trading for NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton. One of the centerpieces of the deal was All-Star 2nd baseman, Starlin Castro, who was sent to the Miami Marlins for Stanton, along with two minor-leaguers.
Castros’ departure, along with Todd Frazier’s free agency and Chase Headley being dealt to the Padres, leaves two open spots in the New York infield.
The Yankees have one of the best farm systems in baseball with Gleyber Torres being their top prospect. Torres, who missed most of 2017 after having Tommy John surgery, was on the fast track to the majors before his injury and will most likely claim one of the positions out of Spring Training.
The natural shortstop spent time at second and third base in the minors to groom him for his job playing alongside big league shortstop Didi Gregorius. That means he can play either open infield spot, opening up possibilities for Yankees GM Brian Cashman.
The number two prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline started last season with the Double-A Trenton Thunder and in 32 games averaged .273 with 18 RBIs. Torres was then promoted and played 23 games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders where he hit .309 and had 16 RBIs with a .406 on-base percentage (OBP).
The Yankees have plenty of players in the organization who can fill the other open role. Utility guy and clubhouse favorite Ronald Torreyes exceeded expectations filling in for Castro and Gregorius when they were out with injuries. Newly acquired Jace Peterson could also earn a place in the starting lineup with a good spring. Peterson has the ability to play anywhere in the infield and can also be utilized in the outfield.
Minor leaguers Tyler Wade, Miguel Andujar and Thairo Estrada could all have opportunities to compete for one of the roles.
Wade is a speedy middle-infielder, but has trouble getting on base to use that speed. Andujar is slated by some to fill the third base position, but may be a liability on defense. There is no question about his talent at the plate, though, and in his major league debut in 2017 he went 3 for 4 and drove in four runs against the Chicago White Sox. Fans were calling for him to fill in at DH late last season with Matt Holiday struggling.
The Yankees could also look outward in their search. The possibility of bringing back Frazier with a team friendly contract has been rumored, but it is unlikely he will accept a one-year deal. Mike Moustakas is another free agent third baseman who may get a look, but will most likely be too expensive for the Yankees who are looking to stay under the luxury tax in 2018.
Trade rumors are also swirling around Manny Machado who will be a free agent after the 2018 season. The Baltimore Orioles third baseman is said to favor the Yankees as a potential landing spot once he is out of his contract. It is unlikely the Orioles will trade their star player to a division rival but there is no doubt that the Yankees have the pieces to get a deal done.
It has also been reported that Castro has asked to leave the Marlins and could want to return to New York. Josh Harrison of the Pirates and Brandon Drury of the Diamondbacks have been reported as possible targets as the Yankees have made contact with both teams in their search for another starting pitcher in the rotation.
Assuming Gleyber Torres is a lock for one of the open positions, I would like to see the Yankees re-sign Frazier on a “hometown” discount or put their trust in the youth and start the season with Andujar at third base.
Putting trust in youth has served Cashman and the Yankees well thus far with Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino and Greg Bird all coming through the farm system to play huge roles with the team recently. These guys along with their veteran teammates have high hopes for 2018 as they look to bring the 28th World Series title to the Bronx.
It is unclear how the Yankees are going to fill their open infield positions, but the myriad of options should make the rest of this offseason interesting and create a good competition in the spring.