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The Yankees position of need this deadline will be shortstop

Starting pitching always seems to be something that the Yankees need, but I think this time around the shortstop position is more important. When it comes to the structure of your defense, the biggest hole is at short. They have a solid defensive infield around that position, with Gio Urshela and DJ LeMahieu being good defenders around Gleyber Torres, and yet his defense has been rancid. In 2021 he already has -3 OAA, a -2 DRS, and a -8.3 UZR/150, which is really poor defense. It doesn’t help that he isn’t hitting well, but I think he’ll figure that out. The issue is that his defense makes the team defense significantly worse seeing that he plays a critical defensive position.

If the Yankees want to shore up the infield defensively, the answer is clear: Upgrade at shortstop.

The Answer At the Deadline

Well, in my opinion, the Rockies’ shortstop Trevor Story is a clear answer. He’s one of the best shortstops and players in baseball, and he’s certainly someone the Yankees should target. From 2018-2020 he’s proven to be an absolutely unreal shortstop. When you put up a 6.6 rWAR per 650, a 124 wRC+, and are one of the best defenders and baserunners at the shortstop position, you’re labeled elite. He’s a top 20 player in baseball and would be the Yankees’ 3rd top 20 player (in my opinion) as Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole are both for sure top 20. When you add that caliber of star talent to your team, you’re significantly improving your roster.

So he’s an elite overall player and he’s going to be available at the deadline, but if you already have four starting infielders, who becomes the odd man out?

Who’s the Yankees Worst Infield Fit?

Let’s look at the Yankee infield without Urshela, Voit, and Torres and see which one makes the most sense. I’ll have their DRS from 2019-2020 at the position included as well.

Without Urshela:

1B: Luke Voit -17
2B: Gleyber Torres -11
SS: Trevor Story 27
3B: DJ LeMahieu -2
Infield DRS: -3

Without Voit:

1B: DJ LeMahieu 0
2B: Gleyber Torres -11
SS: Trevor Story 27
3B: Gio Urshela 5
Infield DRS: +21

Without Torres:

1B: Luke Voit -17
2B: DJ LeMahieu 2
SS: Trevor Story 27
3B: Gio Urshela 5
Infield DRS: +17

The best version of the infield defensively is with Luke Voit out of the defensive lineup, but what about the offensive lineup? We will use the same sample size but with wRC+.

Without Urshela:

1B: Luke Voit 134
2B: Gleyber Torres 121
SS: Trevor Story 120
3B: DJ LeMahieu 146

Without Voit:

1B: DJ LeMahieu 146
2B: Gleyber Torres 121
SS: Trevor Story 120
3B: Gio Urshela 132

Without Torres:

1B: Luke Voit 134
2B: DJ LeMahieu 146
SS: Trevor Story 120
3B: Gio Urshela 132

The answer for the best infield is the one without Gleyber Torres, as he’s the 2nd worst offensive player in wRC+ and the 2nd worst defender in DRS. Story is the worst hitter in wRC+ but by FAR the best defender. Luke Voit is the worst defender by -6 DRS but the 2nd best hitter, so he’s not out of the water but he’s also not the worst option to keep. This isn’t a perfect way to evaluate an infield, as wRC+ isn’t great with correlation to next year wRC+, but I think it’s fair to say this is decent enough statistical evidence to conclude that Torres or  Voit are the two that should be considered to be dealt.

The Yankees May Need a Shortstop: But Who Get’s Dealt

Well if the Yankees only get Trevor Story, Luke Voit being the centerpiece of the deal makes sense. You can’t just trade Gleyber for a rental, even if Story is very good. According to Baseball Trade Values, Gleyber Torres is valued at 57.3 while Story is valued at 30.8. Voit is valued at 19.7, so you can add prospects to equate to Story’s value. If the Yankees wanted another piece like a German Marquez, that would be valued at a combined 96.3 trade value, meaning Gleyber would need to be attached by more pieces, but that would be a feasible idea.

In my opinion, we’ll just have to wait and see. It’s April, we have no idea if Gleyber Torres could heat up or not, though I think my good friend Joe has the Torres Resurgence Plan (trademark pending) covered.

Since the end of last year, I thought the Yankees would need a shortstop, but who gets booted from the starting infield to get that starting shortstop is too early to determine.  Gleyber Torres offensively could be around a 120 wRC+ at the end of the year, but the defensive problems might be too much. Luke Voit may be an elite offensive player, but if the Yankees click offensively before he returns, the organization may devalue him (even though I wouldn’t). It’s a wait-and-see game, but the Yankees will need a real shortstop soon.