Could Oswaldo Cabrera provide the spark the Yankees need?
The New York Yankees are in definite need of a spark.
Once considered the best team in baseball by yours truly, the Yankees — who’ve recently dealt with injuries to D.J. LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton, two of its top run producers, as well as its revitalized 36-year-old infielder Matt Carpenter — have tailed-off over the past several weeks.
They are 8-17 over their last 25 games and a dismal 2-11 since the trade deadline. New York is still nine games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL East lead but have fallen behind the Houston Astros for the best record in the American League by 2.5 games.
New York’s offense has been the main (and most recent) catalyst for its struggles. It’s scored just nine runs over the last seven games, having been shutout three times over that stretch, including on Monday with ace Gerrit Cole on the mound against the aforementioned Rays.
Now, less than 36 hours later, according to Daniel Alvarez-Montas of El Extrabase, the Yankees have called up two minor leaguers who were with Triple-A Scranton — one being the organization’s No. 14 prospect in Oswaldo Cabrera (per MLB Pipeline).
But could Cabrera, who’s been one of the pipeline’s hottest hitters over the last month, provide the spark the Yankees need?
The short answer is yes, let’s discuss why.
Cabrera can play all-around the diamond — unlike Oswald Peraza (who I suggested the Yankees call up recently, though Cabrera is still a very good choice) and Anthony Volpe, two of their other highly touted prospects, who are mainly restricted to the middle infield.
Cabrera has mainly played second base, but can play shortstop, third base and in the corner outfield, where he’s had very brief experience in the minors.
He could, in theory, slot in as an everyday utilityman over Marwin Gonzalez. Cabrera could also provide more production at the plate than both Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson — both of whom are struggling mightily — while also filling in for second baseman Gleyber Torres (who’s nine for his last 64) when he needs an off-day.
In 239 career Triple-A plate appearances, the 23-year-old switch-hitter slashed .298/.380/.591 (.971 OPS) — a 154 wRC+ — with 33 extra-base hits, 13 home runs, 40 RBIs and 11 stolen bases.
Cabrera dealt with shoulder problems earlier this season but has slashed .337/.421/.652 (1.073 OPS; 180 wRC+) in Scranton since he returned on July 12, including .400/.457/.600 in the month of August. He went 3-for-4 with two triples, one home run and three RBIs on Sunday.
It’s okay to temper expectations with minor league prospects making their major league debuts. Not all of them work out. But in the meantime, it’s reasonable to expect decent production from Cabrera if he’s able to log consistent plate appearances.
And it’s reasonable to expect an offensive jolt from the rest of the squad. The Yankees led baseball in runs pre-All-Star break with 497 (5.4 per game) but have scored just 100 (4.0 per game) in the 25 games since, the 15th-most in MLB.
I’d be remiss to mention New York also called up outfielder Estevan Florial, who’s had a cup of coffee the majors. He’ll likely be tasked with supplementing production with Aaron Hicks struggling mightily in centerfield of late. He sports a career .678 OPS, albeit a small sample of 40 plate appearances, with two doubles, one home run and a pair of RBIs at the MLB level.
Nevertheless, Cabrera — perhaps both he and Florial — could provide a spark for a Yankee squad that desperately needs it. Torres and starter Luis Severino have provided jolts after being called up in the past. It would behoove Cabrera to do the same for New York to get back on-track in the season’s final stretch.
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