Peraza (shoulder strain) shut down for 6-8 weeks

March 9th, 2024

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The news that came down on Saturday wasn’t unexpected, but that didn’t mean it was good.

Manager Aaron Boone announced that , who was competing for a bench role this season, will instead be shut down for six to eight weeks with a sub-scapular strain in his right shoulder.

“It’s obviously going to cost him some season, but still there's a lot in front of him in this season,” Boone said shortly before New York's 10-7 loss to the Twins at Lee Health Sports Complex. “So, [we’ll] get him right, get him well and get him rolling.”

On the plus side, the imaging Peraza had done on the shoulder didn’t reveal anything that required surgery, and the Yankees are hopeful that rest and treatment will cure what ails the 23-year-old.

The trouble began for Peraza on Feb. 25, when he reported tightness in his throwing shoulder that Boone said stopped him from being able to “really rip it across the diamond like he would have wanted.” Peraza rested several days and rejoined the lineup on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the issue persisted. The Yankees sent Peraza for an MRI on Thursday and a dye-contrast arthrogram on Friday, a combination of which revealed the problem.

"I think why they went deeper and looked a second day with the arthrogram was just to make sure certain things weren't compromised or in a bad spot," Boone said. "So it sounds like a six- to eight-week thing and then hopefully we'll be in a good spot moving forward."

Peraza entered camp as a favorite to win a bench role due as much to his versatility (he can play second, shortstop and third) as to the impression he made with his glove during 52 games with the Yankees in 2023. He earned praise for several highlight-reel-worthy plays in the field, but his career .273/.348/.424 Minors slash line didn’t transfer to the big league level, where Peraza hit just .191 and struck out 50 times in 173 at-bats.

He’s not out of options, though, meaning that while a strong Grapefruit League showing could have solidified his backup role with the big club, anything less -- or a standout performance from another roster hopeful -- likely would have meant Peraza started the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he’d play every day.

With Peraza now out of contention, Oswaldo Cabrera has likely locked up one bench spot, while a group of youngsters -- Kevin Smith, Josh VanMeter, Jeter Downs and New York's No. 16 prospect Jorbit Vivas among them -- will battle for the remaining opening.

Smith, who signed a Minor League deal with New York on Jan. 8 after cups of coffee with the Blue Jays (2021) and A’s (‘22-23), brings power (102 homers, 129 doubles, 361 RBIs and an .829 OPS across six Minor League seasons). Boone said Smith's true value lies in his versatility: he is listed as a shortstop but also played third and spent time at second and first in the Minors, and added a handful of games in the outfield, as well.

VanMeter, who signed a Minors deal on Jan. 16, brings the obvious advantage of a left-handed bat and what Boone deemed a “real professional approach” to his at-bats. The 28-year-old second baseman spent parts of four seasons in the Majors with the Reds, D-backs and Pirates, playing every position but shortstop and center field.

Boone also didn’t rule out an outside candidate should things play out that way.

“We've still got closer to three weeks until Opening Day. In baseball, and in spring and in this time of year, that's a long time,” Boone said. “A lot can happen between now and then. We'll see.

“Guys are competing here, vying for that, and you never know what can happen again between now and the Opening Day. A lot of things still could shake out.”