Oswald Peraza was one of several Yankees prospects to breakout during the 2021 season. Perhaps, he is the closest to the major leagues too. For the first few years of his professional career, he was not a blue chip prospect. He struggled to hit, especially for power. With a lost 2020 season, few in the public had high expectations for Peraza. After this season, he has drastically flipped the script, and pushed himself to the brink of the majors.
Across three levels, peaking at Triple-A, he was a different player than we’d ever seen. Here’s Recently, FanGraphs’ prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen’s described Peraza as such, “An outstanding international find for $175,000, Peraza is a plus-run, plus-glove shortstop, and scouts see some untapped power potential”.
Peraza has brought this analysis to life. He seems to be a legit defensive shortstop with a promising offensive outlook after the power finally showed up to the field. In 127 plate appearances in High-A, he had a career high ISO of .225. He followed that up in 353 plate appearances in Double-A with 12 homers and a .172 ISO. That, combined with ample defensive value, is what makes Peraza such an exciting prospect.
Now, what a great trade piece for the Brian Cashman! I know, it’s a bit rude of me to argue for shipping him off right after his breakout season, but to be candid, Peraza will need some time in the big leagues to develop his bat. It’s unfair to expect him to hit how he did in the 2021 season if he makes his debut at some point next season (most likely). Because of that, and the fact that the Yankees’ shortstop depth chart could soon become crowded, he will profile as a phenomenal trade chip in the off-season for an impact player.
While Peraza is ranked number 43 on FanGraphs’ prospect list, he has a lot of pressure behind him in the form of Anthony Volpe. Volpe is ranked 18th on the same list and is very young. It’s almost as if Volpe has all the same tools as Peraza, but just slightly better.
The Yankee infield is already a little crowded, but there is a possibility they acquire a shortstop from the group of stud free agents this off-season, or at least a stopgap. The team is in win-now mode, and cannot afford to let a rookie shortstop take the reigns when there are better alternatives.
Volpe is one of the most exciting prospects in the minors. There is no denying that. His presence makes Peraza much more expendable. With the Yankees possibly in need of a center fielder, first baseman, and a fifth starter, Peraza is a perfect candidate to headline a package for a good player with team control for multiple seasons. As I’ve written before, Byron Buxton is a potential fit. There are even higher profile pitchers like Luis Castillo who could be available. You can dream of Matt Olson replacing Luke Voit/Anthony Rizzo if you’re inclined to do so.
The point being is that Peraza has given the Yankees a great chip to acquire an All-Star. Of course, this all depends on how other teams view Peraza, but you cannot deny his performance. Don’t get me wrong, I love homegrown prospects! Fans always have an affinity for homegrown players. But you know what I like more than that? Watching the Yankees win.
If Cashman and Steinbrenner do what we hope and acquire a shortstop via free agency, then Peraza should be moved. Using a big wallet and desirable prospects is the recipe for long-term success. We’ve seen the Dodgers trade prospects that will be good major leaguers for star veterans. Simultaneously, they’ve held onto all their highest-end prospects.
The Yankees can do something very similar. They can sign a star free agent, use their prospect depth (Peraza) to fill another hole, and give Volpe the time he needs to develop into a stud infielder. Let’s hope Cashman presses all the right buttons.