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The Yankees could go to Oswaldo Cabrera for more offensive upside at shortstop

If the Yankees really believe that Oswald Peraza is best served in Triple-A, then they could turn to his teammate for a big-league boost.

Syndication: GREG WOHLFORD/ERIE TIMES-NEWS via Imagn Content Services, LLC

After bringing in Frankie Montas, Scott Effross, Lou Trivino, Andrew Benintendi, and the injured Harrison Bader at the deadline, the only position of need the Yankees did not address was shortstop.

The plan before the season was for Isiah Kiner-Falefa to be a “bridge” player for prospects Oswald Peraza, Anthony Volpe, and to a lesser extent, Oswaldo Cabrera. He started off the year playing well, but now, it has become evident that he is not a starting-caliber shortstop. He is hitting .271/.315/.318 with a putrid 81 wRC+, and OAA (-2) doesn’t like his defense, either. DRS (+6) does like it, though, and so do the Yankees.

Meanwhile, Volpe has adjusted after a poor start of the year and is performing admirably at Double-A, Peraza is slashing .338/.401/.607 (1.008 OPS, 165 wRC+) with 10 home runs and 15 stolen bases in 162 plate appearances since June 11th, and Cabrera has been excellent in Triple-A since returning from a two-month injury hiatus in early July.

In 99 plate appearances since July 4th, the day he returned from a shoulder ailment, Cabrera is hitting a cool .301/.394/.602 (.996 OPS, 162 wRC+) with seven home runs and 11 steals to boot.

In case the Yankees really want to make sure Peraza has enough Triple-A plate appearances under his belt, they also have the option of going with Cabrera to have some sort of role in the MLB club. While we can’t say conclusively that Cabrera will be a significant offensive upgrade over IKF, he carries way more potential, especially power potential, a stat category in which the incumbent Kiner-Falefa has been a zero.

We can’t completely ignore the fact that Cabrera’s overall line is .232/.314/.452 with a 101 wRC+ and a 29 percent strikeout rate, but even that would be an upgrade over IKF. Yes, hitting in Triple-A is definitely not the same than doing it at the major league level, but we have all seen IKF’s ceiling as a hitter, and that’s still a below-average offensive performer.

According to the Yankees’ internal evaluation methods, however, IKF’s defense is way too valuable to entertain the possibility of a change. That’s too bad, because the switch-hitting Cabrera, even accounting his inauspicious start of the season, has an .850 OPS against righties. IKF’s OPS against right-handers is .614.

With those numbers, having Cabrera split time with Kiner-Falefa could be an option, especially since his defense isn’t bad. The former is capable of playing second and third base besides shortstop, but with IKF, Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, and Josh Donaldson available in those positions, he wouldn’t play every day. That’s probably why Cabrera would make more sense than Peraza if the Yankees aren’t going to bench Kiner-Falefa — they probably want the young Oswald to play every night, even if it is at Triple-A. Even if it’s not a straight platoon at shortstop, Cabrera could make a couple of starts per week against right-handers. There is another issue, though — he would probably take Marwin González’s spot on the roster, and the Yankees do value his versatility.

In short, they seem reluctant to bench Kiner-Falefa, and to take González off the roster even if he has an 81 wRC+. That probably closes the door for a call-up for Cabrera, at least for now. It’s too bad, though, because his offensive upside is considerable and he could really help the big league team.