On November 15th, an interview was released from the YES Network between Meredith Marakovits and Hal Steinbrenner. They spoke about a myriad of topics, including the American League Championship Series loss to the Houston Astros and why he believed it happened, as well as Hal’s perception of the narrative that the Yankees are “stagnant.” It’s important to note the Yankees' majority owner brought up the latter on his own.
However, the part of the interview that I’m going to focus on, and what plenty of Yankees Twitter users were excited about as well, was a comment that Steinbrenner made about the two young middle infielders in the system — Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza.
Considering how the middle infield (particularly shortstop) panned out last season, these comments were a huge step forward and provided some optimism for the Yankees faithful. We know how much talent both young players have showcased both in the minors and, in Peraza’s case, in his brief stint in the majors. However, they weren’t given much of a shot last season despite the struggles of several infielders, particularly Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
With the comments in this interview, there are decisions that have to be made by Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman. Whether or not this is posturing by the front office or not remains to be seen, but if the goal is to get Volpe and Peraza in pinstripes for the season they are going to need to make some serious decisions about how to approach this offseason.
First, they’re going to need to come to a conclusion about IKF. It’s a dead horse that was beaten plenty of times throughout the regular season, but these comments and other ones that have been made (including some from Kiner-Falefa himself hoping that he would be in a Yankees uniform next season) make it seem like his future is in question because of his poor performance last season. His defense, despite what Aaron Boone might say in his press conferences to defend his player, was not good enough, and there are replacements both in-house and on the free agent market that would be better in the field and at the plate.
Whether the Yankees trade him or bench him like they did against the Cleveland Guardians in the American League Division Series, something needs to be done before the team proceeds.
The next thing they have to think about if they’re not going to upgrade Volpe and Peraza to permanent Yankees infielders is deciding what they’re going to do in free agency. Obviously, Aaron Judge is the number one priority. But if they can’t manage to get him signed, a free agent shortstop like Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, or Xander Bogaerts wouldn’t be too bad of a consolation prize. That doesn’t allow for both players to come up, but it is certainly an upgrade.
All this to say that the Yankees need to make decisions about which direction they are going to go this offseason. Whether or not that statement from Steinbrenner is just posturing or not to show Judge that they’re willing to commit as much money as possible remains to be seen, but it will be unveiled sooner rather than later. There are plenty of routes that they can take, and if Steinbrenner’s comments end up being true, there will be some exciting new blood in The Bronx.