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Is it nearly time for Everson Pereira?

As the losses mount, and with no one in his way, we could see Pereira in the Yankees’ outfield before the year is over.

New York Yankees Photo Day
Everson Pereira
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The trade deadline has come and gone, and, inexplicably, the Yankees still do not have an everyday left fielder. They went into the offseason openly stating it was a position of need, then did nothing to fill it. It is plausible they felt Oswaldo Cabrera, based on his 110 OPS+ after his call-up in 2022 and impressive outfield defensive metrics, could hold down the job with the support of Aaron Hicks until the acquisition of a bona fide outfielder could return him to a utility role. Like most of the Yankees’ ideas of late, that plan went awry, and Cabrera has been demoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, only to be summoned when injuries necessitate, while Hicks now plays for the Orioles.

Given the opportunity to fill the hole on the left side of the outfield, the Yankees once again chose to do nothing at the trade deadline. Perhaps there was no impact player available to them, as they had hoped, and making no move made more sense than doing something they’d rather not do. During his post-deadline media session, Brian Cashman was asked about any young players who could impact the Yankees in the remaining two months of the season, since they would not be able to acquire players from other major league rosters. He named Everson Pereira.

As much as fans like to discount the things Cashman says through the media, given his aptitude for talking a lot without saying much, you should pay attention when he brings up minor league players by name. Between last season and this one, when asked about the team’s starting pitching depth, Cashman repeatedly brought up the name of Jhony Brito. Who was the first prospect called upon to fill in a rotation spot in April? Brito. When Cashman uttered the name of Pereira, that meant the possibility of seeing him in left field at Yankee Stadium in August or September became very real.

At 22-years-old, Pereira is in his fifth minor league season after signing as a Venezuelan teenager in July of 2017. A variety of injuries, and the pandemic, have cut into his playing time, and he has only played in 276 games in his career thus far, with 102 of those coming last season.

The right-handed-hitting Pereira was signed as a potential five-tool player, and his 2022 stats showed that is still a possibility. Playing in center field, he had an .819 OPS, drilled 14 homers, and stole 21 bases between Hudson Valley and Somerset, and his numbers actually improved after his promotion to Double-A. That scenario is playing out again this year, as Pereira began the year in Somerset and was recently promoted to Triple-A, where he’s been on a tear for 20 games. His .963 OPS has improved upon the .907 he put up in Somerset, and he’s notably expanded his defensive versatility by playing in left and right field almost as much as he’s been in center. Baseball America calls him “an above-average runner who gets excellent jumps in the outfield” and he’s considered to have an above-average throwing arm as well.

What makes Pereira’s numbers and performance at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre look more enticing is the quality of the contact he makes. He’s an exit velocity darling, he barrels the ball at a high percentage, and he hits with power to all parts of the ballpark. Beyond that, he’s shown an aptitude for making adjustments. Pereira displayed some propensity for whiffs and groundballs because of the path of his swing, but he’s been able to noticeably improve as the season has progressed. In a recent podcast, Somerset broadcaster Eli Fishman told an insightful story about Somerset hitting coach Jake Hirst and Yankees hitting coordinator Joe Migliaccio identifying an issue with Pereira’s hands in his load and approach, and without calling it to Pereira’s attention they were able to use video to have him point out the issue himself. He made the correction almost immediately, and the results have been spectacular.

There are several paths in front of Pereira right now. He could spend the rest of the season in Triple-A to finish off his development, as Cashman likes to say, and get the chance to compete for a job in the spring. Because of his performance and the status of his profile, Pereira instead could be a valuable trade chip in the offseason. They could also keep him through the offseason, finally secure everyday outfielders to play alongside Aaron Judge, and Pereira would go into next season in a situation similar to Oswald Peraza, where the organization talks him up but they don’t provide him an opportunity to play. Based on the way the Yankees make decisions lately, anything is possible.

But the most exciting scenario is the one where Pereira, who is on the 40-man roster already, gets an actual shot to play in the big leagues this year. The Yankees are still on the edges of the playoff race right now, and are coming off a pair of nice wins, but there remains a real chance that they play less meaningful games in the coming weeks. Should that play out, with no one standing in his way, it would provide a bit of excitement and create a little interest to watch a young player like Pereira come up and perhaps put himself in line to be a foundational piece for the next competitive roster. The disappointment at the close of the Baby Bombers era does not erase the excitement fans felt when those players began to arrive. There’s nothing better than a home-grown Yankee. As soon as Cashman mentioned Pereira’s name, this became a real possibility, and if he keeps mashing the way he has in Triple-A, it will become more of a likelihood.