Welcome to the Yankees, Jace Peterson. In case you missed it, the team that needed an infielder from outside the organization finally signed one. Unfortunately, Peterson isn’t a very good baseball player. About to enter his age-28 season, he has averaged a .234/.319/.331 batting line over four seasons. He’s nothing special, so why is he so important? Because Gleyber Torres.
Now that Starlin Castro and Chase Headley are gone, the Yankees need options in the infield. Peterson has no power, bad mechanics, and very little bat speed, as Fangraphs described him, but he has a good enough approach at the plate to give himself some kind of value. He doesn’t even have that valuable of a glove, but he can play second and third, and has enough speed on the bases that it translates to his defensive work to some degree.
It seems a little odd that the Yankees would go out of their way to sign a player like this, even if it’s just a minor league deal with a spring training invite. The team already has Ronald Torreyes, who has held onto the position of utility infielder for two seasons now. They also have Tyler Wade, who has a bit more upside, as well as a few other prospects that will surely be in the mix.
The Yankees have already tried to trade for Manny Machado, with no progress evident on the side of the Orioles. They have even looked into a reunion with Todd Frazier, but the price is likely still too high if they want to get under the luxury tax threshold. While the Yankees are in a holding pattern, Jace Peterson seems like the only alternative. He is certainly no better than any of them, and is likely worse than most, so why then did the Yankees sign him?
The answer, of course, is Gleyber Torres. As I previous wrote just before Peterson was signed, the Yankees are planning to manipulate Gleyber’s service time. Brian Cashman dropped hints about holding him back due to injury, but now the team has a living, breathing alternative to play in the field while Torres sits out the appropriate time.
I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but the evidence is now mounting. Peterson is the perfect guy to bring in for a limited time. If the Yankees don’t sign anyone better to play the infield, he and Torreyes can fill out the roster for the necessary 12 days, and then they can send Peterson packing when they deem Torres ready. They did this just last year, if you remember the 11 games Pete Kozma played for the Yankees while Didi Gregorius was hurt.
Again, don’t be surprised if the Yankees make up some business about Gleyber Torres not being ready to play in the majors just yet. He may be their best option in spring training, but now he’s not their only option. We all know that Torreyes isn’t the kind of hitter who can play every day and still be effective, so now it comes to Jace Peterson to be the stopgap. Gleyber may be the future, but Peterson is the exact kind of warm body they need right now.