Yankees general manager Brian Cashman met with reporters this afternoon at the GM Meetings. Asked about areas of the roster that need to be addressed, he forthrightly replied the club “(needs) two outfielders” (video provided by SNY).
The longtime baseball operations leader pointed to the late-season injury to rookie center fielder Jasson Dominguez, who will be out into the middle of the summer after undergoing Tommy John surgery. “Now I need a center fielder, I need a left fielder, preferably left-handed,” Cashman said.
Cashman also alluded to the possibility of making a move involving what he termed an “infield surplus.” The Yankees have Gold Glove winner Anthony Volpe at shortstop, while 23-year-old Oswald Peraza is arguably ready for an everyday look at second or third base. The former top prospect struggled to a .191/.267/.272 line in 52 MLB games this year but had a more impressive .268/.357/.479 showing in Triple-A. Combined with his reputation for plus defense throughout the infield, Peraza could take a step forward in 2024.
The Yankees have Gleyber Torres as the starting second baseman. The right-handed hitter was New York’s second-best offensive player this past season, hitting .273/.347/.453 with 25 homers. Torres hasn’t played great defense and is entering his final year of arbitration control, projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz for a $15.3MM salary.
“Do you try to find a lane to get Peraza involved?” Cashman rhetorically asked. “We have Gleyber Torres in the last year of his contract. He had a hell of a year.” The GM pointed to a strong second half from DJ LeMahieu, who presumably projects as the starting third baseman.
Cashman stopped well shy of saying the Yankees would shop Torres, to be clear. Yet marketing the veteran second baseman could be a way of balancing the roster. In addition to the outfield needs, the GM pointed to an annual desire to bolster the pitching.
Owner Hal Steinbrenner also met with reporters this afternoon (relayed by Bill Ladson of MLB.com). “Everything is on the table when it comes to free agents,” he said. Steinbrenner went on to call a lack of run scoring the team’s biggest problem in 2023.
That all points to a potential run at a top-of-the-market bat, with Shohei Ohtani and Cody Bellinger leading the free agent class. Bellinger, as a left-handed hitting center fielder who dramatically cut his strikeout rate this year, would certainly fit the roster on paper. Indeed, Jon Heyman of the New York Post writes that the club is exploring the top of the offensive market — noting they’ve been in contact with Bellinger’s camp during the early stages of the offseason.
Juan Soto is the biggest subject of trade speculation this winter. It remains unclear how seriously the Padres might consider moving their star left fielder, although the Yankees would surely be in that mix if the Friars made Soto available. If they look further down on the trade front, the likes of Max Kepler or Trent Grisham could be on the block. Grisham is the superior defender, while Kepler has more offensive upside.
As things stand, New York only has Aaron Judge locked into an outfield spot. A short-term acquisition — Kepler, for instance, is one year from free agency — could allow the Yankees to preserve future flexibility if Dominguez returns in the second half. Everson Pereira is a highly-regarded talent who could play his way into the left or center field mix but hit only .151/.233/.194 in his first 27 big league contests.