The New York Yankees have already announced that veteran DJ LeMahieu will move from his usual starting utility role to third base in 2024. LeMahieu has been a regular backup option for the Yankees in recent years, but Aaron Boone thinks he’s ready to lock down the hot corner full time. LeMahieu struggled offensively last season, but was able to turn things around after the All-Star break, suggesting he could have a big bounce-back season.Defensively, DJ played 592.2 innings at third base and posted a .994 defensive percentage with three defensive runs saved and three putouts above average. The Yankees can trust him in one of their strongest defensive lineups, but that leaves an open question for Oswald Peraza, a young prospect looking to make an impact in 2024. At 23 years old, Peraza is still trying to define his offensive identity. He is out of minor league options and the Yankees need to use him as a starter in their equation. Last year he played 52 games in the MLB and hit .191 / .267 / .272. He also added two home runs, 14 RBI, a 26.2% strikeout rate, a 6.8% walk rate and 53 wRC+. He was a below-average offensive player, but the Yankees still want him to improve his swing decisions and make better contact. He reported a 28.5% strikeout rate, 4.1% barrel rate, and 87.2 average exit velocity, which certainly suggests improvement is needed.The main advantage is that he is a Gold Glove defender in most interior locations. He will likely fill LeMahieu’s previous role, taking over at third base when DJ moved to first base to make up for potential losses. Last season, Peraza played the majority of his defensive innings at third base and posted a .964 fielding percentage with even-keel stats. He has the ability to play second base and shortstop at a high level, but Anthony Volpe got that job full-time. Owner manager Hal Steinbrenner has already indicated he prefers to see Peraza as part of their future plans, and it appears the Yankees are looking to bring him on board.
They have resisted providing him with consistent attacks and opportunities at times, but now they need his services and the final piece of the puzzle is determining his offensive strengths.