Third baseman Josh Donaldson was not with the Yankees for their Friday game against the Baltimore Orioles. Instead, he is in New York, and he reportedly tested his right hamstring to see if he could avoid a trip to the injured list. According to manager Aaron Boone, that’s not going to be the case.
Prior to the Yankees’ 7-6 loss to the O’s, Boone said that Donaldson will likely go on the 10-day injured list. He was hurt on Wednesday, running to first base in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
“It’s likely going to be an IL situation,” Boone said, per NJ Advance Media. “We’ll make that call probably at the end of the day. Nothing too serious, it’ll probably knock him down four or five days. We’re going to likely be cautious of this situation.”
As of the time this article goes live, Donaldson is on the active roster, but that seems like a lock to change. His hamstring is clearly not 100 percent and the team is not going to take any chances with the 37-year-old. It doesn’t make sense to play with a man down for almost a week.
Look for DJ LeMahieu to take the lion’s share of the starts at third base in the coming days, with Isiah Kiner-Falefa available as a backup, or to even shift there on days when Boone wants to put LeMahieu at second and Gleyber Torres (or LeMahieu himself) at DH.
The big-money third baseman Donaldson was having a miserable start of the season for the Yankees. In 17 plate appearances, he was slashing .125/.176/.313 with a 28 wRC+. The size of the sample is excessively small, but that’s not exactly a Bryan Reynolds-esque start.
Donaldson had been tinkering with his mechanics and stance in spring training. He shortened his leg kick and made it more direct and he also started standing more upright at the plate. Those changes seemed to start yielding results near the end of the spring. Now, we will have to wait until he returns and hopefully get a larger sample to see if they were for real.
As for who is going to replace Donaldson on the active roster, Jhony Brito is likely the name to follow since he is with the Yanks’ taxi squad. Per a report from after the Friday contest, he will start on Saturday night.
Aaron Boone said Jhony Brito is with the Yankees on the taxi squad. They’ll make a determination about him getting called up after the game.— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) April 7, 2023
Brito, as you probably recall, pitched a masterpiece against the San Francisco Giants in the third game of the season. The 25-year-oldtossed five scoreless frames and impressed everybody with his sinker and his nasty changeup. He had been optioned to Scranton after his start because the Yankees needed bullpen help and at the time, it looked like they would only need a fifth starter once in the next three weeks.
There is an issue with adding Brito to the roster, though: teams are not allowed to carry 14 pitchers per the new CBA. That means the Yankees will need to get creative with their roster maneuvering.
If Brito is indeed coming up, another pitcher would need to be subtracted from the roster in order for the young sinker-change hurler to be added. So while Brito’s coming up very shortly, the swap won’t directly be Donaldson-for-Brito.
From a roster construction standpoint, the logical candidate to be called up would be Oswald Peraza. He is an infielder, he is good, and he is on the 40-man roster. Doing that could probably disrupt his recent hot run in Scranton, where he is off to a solid start after losing the big league shortstop battle to Anthony Volpe.
If they opt to keep Peraza in Triple-A playing every day, they would need to add someone to the 40-man roster (perhaps the recently-outrighted Estevan Florial), The other question is which pitcher loses his spot on the active roster to accommodate Brito. Ian Hamilton is a possibility since he has options per Roster Resource, but he certainly hasn’t pitched like he deserves a demotion. There’s also Colten Brewer, who while perfectly fine has pitched just once, but would the Yankees DFA him so soon? So there are no obvious candidates.
We will have to wait to see what the team decides to do. An official roster move could be coming in a matter of hours.