With about two weeks until spring training begins, the Yankees’ roster seems all but set. They accomplished their biggest goals before the new year, re-signing Aaron Judge and bringing aboard lefty ace Carlos Rodón. Keeping Anthony Rizzo fortified first base. Signing Tommy Kahnle strengthened the back end of the bullpen. Even the front office got a boost with the additions of Omar Minaya, an ex-Mets general manager, and Brian Sabean, the architect of the Giants’ three World Series wins in the 2010s.
At the moment, adding significant payroll seems unlikely. Per Cot’s Contracts, the Yankees’ luxury tax payroll sits at $289 million — just $4 million shy of the highest luxury tax tier of $293 million. The club seems unlikely to exceed it, according to a person with knowledge of the team’s personnel decisions.
Still, key questions persist. Who’s going to start in left field? What about at shortstop? And who fills out the final spot in the bullpen?
Let’s dive into the Yankees’ three position battles heading into camp:
The candidates: Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Oswald Peraza, Anthony Volpe
The prediction: Peraza
Owner Hal Steinbrenner, manager Aaron Boone and general manager Brian Cashman each have used the same word to describe how the Yankees see shortstop heading into spring training: competition. On paper, it makes sense for the veteran Kiner-Falefa to battle it out with top prospects Peraza and Volpe. But there isn’t much reason to believe that the Yankees internally won’t have the 22-year-old Peraza atop their leaderboard going into the first workouts. Ranked No. 76 on Keith Law’s top 100 prospects list, Peraza isn’t just a defender with skills that are on par with or better than those of Kiner-Falefa. Peraza brings a higher offensive upside (19 home runs at Triple A in 2022) than the light-hitting Kiner-Falefa. Plus, the Yankees signaled a willingness to finally trust Peraza when they started him in the American League Championship Series following Kiner-Falefa’s defensive miscues.