With the Yankees mired in a 3-11 stretch to start August, they made a couple callups from the minors looking to create any sort of spark. One of them was outfielder Estevan Florial, who we had seen before in the majors. He had put up some good numbers in previous stints in the Bronx, albeit in a very small sample size.
The other was a versatile prospect named Oswaldo Cabrera. While he was generally seen as a top 10 to 15-ish prospect in the Yankees’ system, Cabrera wasn’t rated quite on the level of Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe. Yet he got the call after a couple solid seasons at the plate over 2021 and ‘22. While he wasn’t a dynamic bat in his first couple years in the minors, Cabrera OPSed .958 in Triple-A and .803 in Double-A over the last two seasons, getting him on the radar. Add in his versatility — he played at five different positions in the minors — and the Yankees decided to see if they could get a spark out of him.
While there were some downs, Cabrera definitely helped the Yankees, and now looks like a promising and very useful player.
2022 Statistics: 44 games, 171 plate appearance, .247/.312/.429, 109 OPS+, 111 wRC+, 1.5 fWAR
2023 Contract Status: Pre-arbitration eligible
Cabrera made his MLB debut on August 17th, going hitless in what was the wild 8-7 walk-off win over the Rays. He got his first MLB hit the next day, and seemed to really mark his big league arrival about a week later, when he had back-to-back three-hit games in Oakland.
However, soon after that began an extended slump. From August 29th to September 7th, he went though an 0-for-25 slide, and it seemed like pitchers had maybe adjusted to him and he began to look overmatched. However, in the first game of a doubleheader on September 7th, Cabrera broke that 0-for streak with a walk-off single, getting the Yankees a crucial win over the Twins.
Including that game, he hit .286/.363/.539 with six home runs in 103 plate appearances over the rest of the season. That run not only got Cabrera on the Yankees’ playoff roster, but basically ensured that they had to carve out a place for him in the lineup.
Even if he had only hit at a mediocre level, the Yankees’ might’ve had him on the playoff roster just for his versatility. Over the course of his 44 games in the majors, Cabrera played at six different positions in the field, playing everywhere but pitcher, catcher, and center field. That included 13.1 innings at first base, a position he hadn’t played in the minors prior to his call up.
Cabrera also hadn’t been massively experienced in the outfield prior to his MLB debut, playing just 34 innings there, all of which had come this season. His versatility in the infield meant that there was always a chance he could adapt to other roles, but it’s still somewhat of a risk. Not only did he adapt, he performed well out there. Over one particular stretch, he seemingly threw out a runner every day, as people continued to try and test the rookie.
Oswaldo Cabrera, with 3 professional games in right field before his call-up, now has 5 outfield assists with the Yankees, the most in MLB since his August 17 MLB debut https://t.co/DiKiRpLlt6— James Smyth (@JamesSmyth621) September 7, 2022
In the postseason, Cabrera cooled off, but then again, which Yankee didn’t? Even then, he did hit what seemed like a would be a crucial home run in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Guardians.
He also was involved with some notable mixups in the outfield in the postseason that you could maybe find him at fault for. That being said, nine games is a small sample size, and he would be far from the first person to struggle in their first taste of the playoffs.
Now, we have to see whether or not he can build on his 2022. What we saw in the 44 regular season games he played looked like someone who can be a major league regular. His expected stats are a little bit worse than the ones he actually put up, but on the whole he did a lot of good things. At worst, his defense and versatility gives him a real chance to stick around for a while as a utility man. That being said, I think we’re all dreaming of more than that, because Oswaldo Cabrera was a lot of fun this past season.