It’s January 6th, and we don’t really know who will be taking the bulk of the starts for the Yankees at third base. For all we know, it could be Josh Donaldson, who struggled with the bat in 2022 but has received votes of confidence. There’s Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who was even worse for the year. Oswaldo Cabrera or DJ LeMahieu also could play third, but profile at other positions as well. It could a free agent (unlikely at this point) or a trade acquisition.
Speaking of potential trade fits, there aren’t many at this point. Most of them are projected stars at their own teams or just not enough of an upgrade for the Yankees to make a move and give up prospects. There is, however, a potential fit in Minnesota. He is not a natural third baseman, but can certainly play there as well as other potential positions of need like left field.
Batting champion Luis Arraez (whose league-leading .316 kept Aaron Judge from a chance to win the Triple Crown) was singled out by The Athletic in December as a potential trade candidate. The Twins would love to get their hands on quality pitching, and if they feel the versatile contact hitter can help fetch one, they are open to talk business.
Now, a deal with the Yankees is unlikely because of that same reason: while New York has impact pitching, it’s hard to see them giving up, say, Néstor Cortés Jr. in a trade for Arraez. The Bombers do have several young, talented, and controllable position players to offer – Gleyber Torres, Oswald Peraza, Oswaldo Cabrera, Anthony Volpe, Jasson Domínguez, Trey Sweeney, and others – in trade talks should they find a name of their liking. Additionally, Arraez is young (25), good, and under control : he won’t be a free agent until 2026.
Still, a deal for Arraez can’t be fully ruled out, even if it’s a longshot. The Yankees still have that third base (and left field) potential opening, and anyone who can fill those roles is going to be of interest to the club.
Hitting-wise, it doesn’t take much baseball knowledge to know that Arraez is a unicorn. In a world in which batters look to hit the ball hard and in the air, sacrificing contact in the process, the Twins’ infielder has a career 92.6 percent contact rate. He was at an incredible 94.1 percent this year, and struck out in just 7.1 percent of his plate appearances. The Yankees do not have a hitter like him, even if 2019-20 DJ LeMahieu came relatively close.
Despite hitting just eight home runs in 603 plate appearances, Arraez had a cool 131 wRC+ last season. He did it with that high batting average and a solid 8.3 percent walk rate that drove his OBP to an excellent .375.
Arraez is legit. In 4 seasons and 1,569 plate appearances, he has a .314/.374/.410 line with a 120 wRC+. He won’t hit too many dingers or steal a lot of bases, but he is comfortably above-average at the plate. At his age, there’s no reason to believe he can’t continue to produce with this style of hitting.
On the field, he can play first, second, third, and left field. He could also be an emergency shortstop. It is widely known that the Yankees could use an upgrade in left field and the hot corner, and Arraez has big league experience in both positions. He is no star with the glove, though, even if he won’t embarrass himself.
In a vacuum, having a hitter like Arraez in the Yanks’ lineup would be a nice complement to the generally low-contact, high-OBP, high-power batting order. Even better, it could help get either Donaldson or Aaron Hicks off the lineup on a nightly basis. However, to get him, the Yankees would likely have to give away a pitcher they surely won’t want to surrender. Even though Arraez sure would look nice in pinstripes, any deal is still unlikely.