I'm sure many of you have seen some comments from me over the past few months about The 130 Plan, but I wanted to take a little time to explain my thought process and the reasons why I believe this should have been adopted prior to the 2021 season by the Yankees and in the future. When I first mentioned the idea, back in November of 2020, it was meant to be a blueprint for how the Yankees could add Francisco Lindor without sacrificing any of the existing offensive talent on the roster, but the more I think about it, the more it appears it could be an extremely helpful tool for this team and could be used to justify acquiring Trevor Story.
For those unfamiliar with the plan, it maps out a 162 game season, in which the Yankees are in the best possible position to cover for injuries or off days. Going into a season, the expectation would be for each starter to play 130 games at their regular position. This is roughly 80% of a full season and would allow for each starter the ability to take one game off every five days without seeing a significant drop off in talent on the field. This may sound slightly counter intuitive, because if you have one of the best players at their respective position on your roster, conventional wisdom would lead you to want to have that player on the field at all times. This plan does not restrict those players, and that's what I would like to explain.
It's completely unrealistic to expect an entire team's position players to play in all 162 games, which leads to bench players and role players having to fill in for days off and injuries. This means players like Tyler Wade, Mike Ford, Thairo Estrada, Jordy Mercer, Breyvic Valera, and Kendrys Morales see significant playing time. In fact, replacement infielders like these, have played in a combined to play in 331 games for the Yankees since the beginning of the 2019 season. That's an average of 1.49 replacement infielders in the Yankee lineup every game over the past two seasons. We're no longer talking about a replacement player or utility player. If there's an average of 1 1/2 of these players in every Yankee lineup, that's an every day player. So why not make that player Gleyber Torres? His ability, or inability to play either middle infield position along with DJ Lemahieu's ability to cover any infield position other than SS gives the Yankees some built in flexibility to their roster that would allow bringing in a player like Trevor Story without sacrificing much if anything.
If the Yankees were to bring in a player like Story, here's what the gameplan could look like:
position/player/expected games played at position
1B Voit 130, DJL 30
2B DJL 70, Torres 90
3B Gio 130, DJL 30
SS Story 130, Torres 30
This would be the planned distribution of games, but injuries would dictate actual playing time. Players like Tyler Wade aren't the ones inserted into regular playing time under this formula, giving the Yankees the best team on the field possible. In the unlikely event that none of the five infielders deal with an injury, they would each be slated for 130 games, with the exception of Torres slated for 120. There are still 2 games remaining at each position not accounted for along with the possible game or two at the DH position that could easily allow Gleyber to hit the 130 plateau as well. Odds are though, with the amount of injuries this team typically deals with, the healthiest bodies will have no trouble finding playing time.
Now before anyone gets too concerned about taking games away from great players like DJ Lemahieu, let me ease your worried minds a little. The only way anyone gets shorted games and "limited" to 130 games is if no one gets hurt. the first player injured opens up playing time for another and we all know there are only three guarantees in life: Death, Taxes, and Yankees players getting injured.
Luke Voit has never played 130 games in a season and has maxed out at 118. That peak season for Voit would open up 12 additional games for DJL at 1B, which opens up 12 games for Torres at 2B. That's how this works.
Gio Urshela maxed out at 132 games in 2019 in his only season eclipsing that mark, and Gleyber Torres has only done it once as well.
Add in Giancarlo Stanton only eclipsing the mark 4 times in 11 seasons, and the DH position could provide some opportunities as well.
DJ LeMahieu is the only Yankee position player that's played over 130 games in half of his seasons in the majors, hitting the mark 5 times in 10 seasons. He'll see all the playing time he wants, given his ability to play three infield positions.
If you still doubt the plan, let me add this. What you see is what you're going to get. The infield's locked up under team control through 2024, with the exception of Gio, who becomes a free agent after the 2023 season. So unless the Yankees decide to trade away Voit, Urshela, or Torres, history will continue to repeat itself and we'll have players like Tyler Wade seeing significant playing time on this team and no upgrade at SS defensively. Don't get me wrong,...there's a ton of talent already in place and a move might not neccesarily NEED to be done. But, it's obvious Gleyber Torres is limited defensively and really hasn't shown the offensive prowess he displayed in 2019. Shifting him to a fifth infielder might be beneficial to this team, upgrading defensively at one of the most important positions(SS), adding some top notch depth to the roster(Story), while keeping Gleyber's bat in the lineup.
Through 9 games this season, Jay Bruce, and Roughned Odor have appeared in 9 games and had a combined 32 AB's. Those games and AB's would go to Gleyber under this model, and Gleyber's 9 games and 36 AB's would go to Trevor Story. A player like Wade could continue to fill the role of late inning defensive replacement/pinch runner that has netted him 6 appearances and only 3 AB's.
Unfortunately, the Yankees will most likely not make a move for Story this season, as the luxury tax will make the move damn near impossible. It probably can't be done until the off season, and I doubt Cashman would even pull the trigger then. Waiting is a mistake though. There's a pretty good chance Story's moved this season, and any acquiring team will seek to lock him up long term. It doesn't mean it will happen, but it increases the odds the superstar SS class will be minus another member if he is traded. And that means, for better or worse, the infield will remain the same for at least the next three years. As I mentioned above, that may not be a bad thing, but why not improve upon it if you can?