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Injuries are testing the Yankees’ depth up the middle

The Yankees depth is being tested by injuries to their starting middle infielders.

MLB: FEB 22 Spring Training - Blue Jays at Yankees Photo by Icon Sportswire

The Yankees depth has been tested time and again over the last few seasons. Up to this point, the Yankees have been able to plug their holes with players from their 40-man roster, like Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada. Now with both DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres down, the Yankees may be forced to look at their non-roster options from the alternate site in Scranton.

With injuries mounting last week, the Yankees brought in nine-year major league veteran Jordy Mercer. Mercer put together a solid run in Pittsburgh and Detroit, registering between 1.1 and 2.2 WAR in seven of the last eight seasons. Mercer meets the current needs of the Yankees, as he has played a majority of his games at shortstop in his career. He has never graded out as one of the league’s best defensively, but is adequate at the position.

Mercer brings a below average bat to the table, as he has averaged a 91 OPS+ over the previous four seasons. He played three games with Detroit this season before being sent to the alternate site and electing free agency.

Another player currently in Scranton with significant major league experience is Matt Duffy. He is a third baseman by trade but has experience playing at both shortstop and second base at the major league level. Duffy finished second in the National League Rookie-of-the-Year voting in 2015. During that campaign he produced a 3.9 WAR in his best season.

Playing for Tampa Bay in 2019, Duffy battled injuries that included a trip to the 60-day IL. Duffy has been a productive major league player as recently as 2018, when he produced a 2.9 WAR in 132 games for Tampa Bay. During that season he slashed .294/.361/.366.

Listed as an outfielder, Rosell Herrera turned heads with an impressive spring training with the Yankees. The former top-100 prospect as a member of the Rockies organization in 2014 he has failed to secure a spot at the major league level with four other organizations.

While he has played more outfield at the major league level, Herrera has more innings at shortstop than any other position as a professional. This spring he was routinely playing on the infield for the Yankees.

Herrera was slowed by a heel injury during summer camp, but was assigned to the alternate training site in Scranton. In 149 major league games, Herrera has slashed .225/.286/.316. After his strong spring many observers wondered if he would be the next player in the vein of Gio Urshela and Luke Voit to take off offensively after getting to the Yankees.

The last infielder currently playing in Scranton is former first round pick Kyle Holder. Holder was considered the best defensive player in the 2015 draft and is still known for his range on the dirt.

Holder had never produced an above average offensive season until 2019 when he managed a 119 wRC+ with Double-A Trenton. The Yankees could choose Holder as the best defensive option for the team in the later innings.

The Yankees have watched their All-Star middle infield of DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres go down with injuries. They may be able to rely on their in-house options of Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada, but they will need depth behind them. The options are not perfect, but they have a group of players with major league experience and a top defensive prospect waiting in the wings if needed.