TAMPA, Fla. – Might the Yankees find a way to leave Tampa with both Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe, their two hyped shortstop prospects?
The short answer is no.
At least, not with the way the current roster is constructed.
But make no mistake, the Yankees would love to find a way to take both players north at camp’s end.
And changes to the roster between now and the season opener March 30 that would make that a possibility cannot be ruled out.
There can be injuries, and the Yankees have experienced their share of them in the last week, with lefthander Carlos Rodon, righty relievers Tommy Kahnle and Lou Trivino and centerfielder Harrison Bader all going down.
But a trade of some kind could also occur, and the Yankees just happen to possess two infielders that have some rival teams at least somewhat interested – second baseman Gleyber Torres and shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
Asked a form of the above question before Tuesday night’s Grapefruit League game against the Blue Jays at Steinbrenner Field, Aaron Boone, after first saying “that would be a hypothetical,” did not outright dismiss the notion.
“You know what, we’re 2 ½ weeks away [from the start of the regular season],” the sixth-year manager said. “So many things have already happened that you don’t account for. I never say never. I don’t know. We might be in a different situation tomorrow, next week, that we couldn’t have even imagined. We’re trying to get guys ready for the season, and those are two guys (Peraza and Volpe) that we feel very highly about.”
He added later: “You could have a lot of things that could happen between now and then that change. We’ll see.”
Peraza, a natural shortstop who, in Boone’s words “looks the part” at the position, started there Tuesday night and hit his first homer of the spring. The 22-year-old, who started two of the Yankees’ ALCS games last October against the Astros, is a stellar defender who was off to a slow start at the plate, 3-for-17 (.176) in seven games coming into Tuesday.
Peraza, who debuted late last season and never appeared overwhelmed – in the field or at the plate – when he got his opportunities, came into camp the favorite to land the job.
Peraza, the better shortstop of the two, has done nothing to lose his favorite status.
But the 21-year-old Volpe continues to rack up supporters behind the scenes, almost on a daily basis. The club’s first-round pick in 2019 has impressed the organization, which already had a high opinion of him, with everything from his play in the field to his preparation to his attitude to his ability to be instantly accepted by veterans in the clubhouse (Peraza, it should be pointed out, is viewed in much the same vein).
Volpe, off on Tuesday, is 9-for-28 (.424) with two homers and a 1.103 OPS in 10 games.
The vast majority of talent evaluators, both inside and outside the Yankees organization, ultimately see Volpe as a good major league shortstop but a potentially great second baseman. Volpe has looked good at both positions.
“He's come in with the expectations and a lot of eyeballs on him and performed,” Boone said Tuesday. “And just being around him, you see the little intangible things he brings to the table every day and the way he goes about his business.”
The Yankees have yet to begin their meetings regarding the shortstop decision – it will be a collaborative call with input coming from everyone from Boone to general manager Brian Cashman to the powerful analytics department to owner Hal Steinbrenner – in earnest, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been ongoing discussions about it, with vigorous debate already taking place.
“Either way we’re going to be in a good spot,” Gerrit Cole said Tuesday after his third spring start. “Both good players, man.”