Anthony Volpe basically entered spring training as a compelling prospect to watch with a distant chance of actually making the team out of camp.
Distant doesn’t mean zero, though. And now, those long odds actually are looking like a good bet.
Volpe has been turning heads left and right during camp. He is one of the Yankees’ top prospects, but only has 22 Triple-A games to his name. The 21-year-old entered camp with a chance to win a role, but Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Oswald Peraza – another high-end prospect – also are vying for the role. Kiner-Falefa played shortstop for the Yankees much of last season, but Peraza got some big league looks, including in the postseason.
Volpe has responded by tearing the cover off the ball this spring, going 10-for-36 (.278) with a pair of homers, four doubles, three RBIs and six walks. He’s struck out seven times and stolen four bases.
That apparently has been enough to get some noteworthy Yankees in his corner.
“Some key Yankees players want Anthony Volpe on the team, sources say, and that can’t hurt his chances,” Audacy MLB Insider Jon Heyman wrote in a column for the New York Post.
It’s not clear who said “key” players are, but it’s worth mentioning Aaron Judge has point blank said the best players should make the roster. It is indisputable that Volpe has been one of the best players on the roster this spring.
Peraza is regarded as the better defensive player, something that might turn Volpe into a second baseman long term. But Volpe is in prime developmental years, as is Peraza, which is what complicates this. It doesn’t make sense to have either occupying a MLB roster spot if they’re not going to play. They’d be better suited playing every day in Scranton.
The Yankees were unable to move Josh Donaldson this offseason, and he’s in line to be the Opening Day third baseman. Gleyber Torres projects as the starting second baseman, but after a bounce-back 2022 probably has decent enough trade value. Given the health issues on the pitching staff, flipping someone like Torres for pitching would make sense.
There is probably a scenario where the Yankees move Torres, then have Peraza at short and Volpe at second, with Anthony Rizzo playing first and D.J. LeMahieu at third. That way Donaldson goes to the bench, but presents a viable enough option to play every day if one of the young middle infielders struggles. LeMahieu's ability to play three infield positions also helps.
It’s a good problem for the Yankees to have, but Opening Day is two weeks away. The easiest thing to do would be put him in the minors and buy time, but if the Yankees are intent on winning now – and we know they are – doing anything but fielding a roster with the best 26 players available is nonsensical.
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