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  • Cory Claus

Could the Yankees Bring Back Gio Urshela?

The Yankees went into the second half of the season already thinking of 2024. Their first priority has to be finding a third baseman after the disastrous Josh Donaldson debacle. The name at the top of that list has got to be Matt Chapman. He’s likely to have a number of teams interested in his services, however. But the next name on that list is one familiar to Yankees fans: Gio Urshela. He’s already played in New York and left a fan favorite. Could a reunion be in the cards?

Yankees Stadium

The Yankees are limping to the end of the season slowly and painfully. It’s like watching a march to the elephant’s graveyard.

The best the fans can hope for now is a successful reboot for 2024. It’s easy to imagine the season going much the same since so many of the current cast members will be back. But there’s reason for optimism, too.

Anthony Rizzo was off to a good start before his undiagnosed concussion. Back on May 27th, the day before he was concussed, Rizzo was hitting a robust .303/.376/.507 with an OPS of .884. If he can shake off the cobwebs over the winter, he might be rested and ready for a successful season next year.

DJ Lemahieu’s season has been just the opposite. He played poorly for the first three months or so but has reclaimed the strike zone recently. In the last month, he's hitting a more Lemahieu-like .304/.435/.411 to go with his .846 OPS.

Plus, many players have up and down years later in their careers. DJ might very well put together a more complete Lemahieu season in 2024.

Aaron Judge already looks like he’s recovering from his toe injury; that bodes well for the MVP still in his prime.

Trying to Stay Positive

There is also room for optimism with the pitching staff. Cole looks better than ever, while it’s not unreasonable to think that Carlos Rodon will bounce back. The same is true for Nestor Cortes Jr., who, along with Clarke Schmidt, gives the Yankees an excellent starting four pitchers.

The team will also get younger and more athletic. OF Everson Pereira will be installed either in center or left, depending on whether the Yankees bring back Harrison Bader. C Austin Wells will likely join him at some point, perhaps in the second half. It’s also possible that Jasson Dominguez brings his big bat to the Bronx later in the year, but that’s no sure thing.

In the infield, Anthony Volpe should have a better second year than his home-run-hitting first season. Ditto Oswald Peraza, especially if he gets to stay in the Bronx for the entire season.

The final piece to the puzzle is that Brian Cashman will have more money to spend, primarily because of the end of Josh Donaldson’s contract. That alone with free up 21 million, giving Cashman maybe as much as 40 million to play with.

Some of that will likely go to a fifth starter, maybe someone like Rich Hill.

How Cashman decides to structure the team next season will determine how he spends the rest. The one big question will be, what to do about Gleyber Torres? He’s having a good year and is the second-best offensive player on the team (.265/.332/.434). But he’s also earning roughly 10 million this season and will get a deserved raise next year. After that, he’s a free agent.

He would normally be a player the Yankees would want to keep. But with their bloated payroll and Rizzo not coming off the books until the end of 2024, Cashman is likely to trade him.

Not only would this free up salary, but it would also bring back more much-needed prospects. It would also relieve the log jam in the infield, especially with Peraza waiting in the wings. He can play second or swap with Volpe and play shortstop.

That would leave the Yankees in need of a third baseman. Lemahieu could be penciled in there, but he’s too valuable as the utility infielder, and the Yankees need to add another bat somewhere.

All of that adds up to Cashman bringing in a free agent.

Fortunately, there is a decent class of third baseman becoming available, headlined by Matt Chapman. Chappy is still the premier defensive player at the position who’s also put up good offensive numbers this year. He's slashed .255/.346/.449 so far with 15 home runs. He would instantly upgrade the position, which wouldn’t be hard after Donaldson.

A Yankees Reunion

But there’s another name the Yankees will be looking at, and it’s a familiar one to Yankees fans: Gio Urshela.

It’s easy to make the case for Urshela. In the first place, he’s going to cost a lot less than Chapman. That's true because he's a better hitter and a Scott Boras client. But Gio is also a year older than Chapman at 31. So while he’s still in his prime, his value is slightly lower.

And although Chappy is a much better power hitter, Urshela is hitting for a higher average (299/.329/.374). The Yankees need more hits and Urshela could provide them. Urshela has also already proven he can play in the Bronx, which is always a concern; see Sonny Gray.

Last but not least is that Urshela is a fan favorite. The Yankees and their fans are going to want as many positive vibes as they can get to start next season; bringing back Urshela would only add to that. This last point is more tangential to the team’s thinking, but it would be an added bonus.

All of this is based on what Brian Cashmand does with Torres. If Cashman decides to keep him, then the Yankees will already have a full roster of infielders. Even if he does trade him, Cash might spend that money on a better pitcher than Hill. He could even arrange for another reunion in the form of Jordan Mongomery.

He might even decide to splash out for a big-time centerfielder like Cody Bellinger.

But I don’t think he will. Not when their top three prospects are all outfielders, including Spencer Jones, along with the aforementioned Pereira and Dominguez. I also don’t think he’ll spend a lot on the pitching staff because he already has his two aces (if Rodon performs to his contract).

That leaves third base as the most likely place for an expensive upgrade. And that might mean a reunion with Gio Urshela in 2024.


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