HomeMLB RumorsYankees Select Kevin Smith - MLB Trade Rumors

Yankees Select Kevin Smith – MLB Trade Rumors

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The Yankees announced this afternoon that they’ve selected the contract of infielder Kevin Smith. Smith will take the roster spot of Jon Berti, who the club placed on the 10-day injured list due to a left calf strain. Making room for Smith on the 40-man roster is DJ LeMahieu, who was transferred to the 60-day injured list.

Smith, 27, was a 4th-round pick by the Blue Jays back in 2017 and made his big league debut with the club in 2021, though he hit just .094/.194/.188 in 36 plate appearances with Toronto that season. Smith is perhaps most notable for being part of the four-player package the Blue Jays sent to Oakland in exchange for then-A’s third baseman Matt Chapman prior to the 2022 season. Smith would go on to appear in 96 games for the A’s over the 2022 and ’23 campaigns but again struggled to hit at the big league level as he posted a paltry .183/.218/.314 slash line in 297 trips to the plate as a member of the Athletics.

That meager offensive performance was enough to convince the A’s to non-tender Smith back in November, though he eventually joined the Yankees on a minor league deal back in January. This is actually Smith’s second stint with the big league club this year, as he was already called up once earlier this year the first time the club placed Berti on the shelf back in mid-April. Unfortunately for Smith, he ultimately made just one appearance in a Yankees uniform during that stint with the club and failed to record even one plate appearance before being designated for assignment and outrighted to Triple-A.

It’s possible this stint in the majors could be a similarly brief one as well. After all, the Yankees also announced earlier this afternoon that LeMahieu’s rehab assignment has been transferred to Triple-A and MLB.com’s Injury Tracker notes that manager Aaron Boone expects LeMahieu to rejoin the club at some point during their three-game set against the Angels that begins on May 28. LeMahieu’s initial IL placement was retroactive to March 25, meaning that today’s transfer to the 60-day IL is a purely procedural move that has no bearing on when the Yankees can activate him.

LeMahieu’s return from the shelf will be a huge relief for the Yankees, as they’ve struggled to get much production from much of their infield mix this year. Anthony Volpe has been excellent at shortstop this season while veteran first baseman Anthony Rizzo has held his own with a roughly league average slash line, but Gleyber Torres has struggled badly at the plate while acting as the club’s regular second baseman with a .221/.298/.318 slash line in 219 trip to the plate so far this year. It can be argued that Torres’s overall track record an above-average bat should earn him the opportunity to bust out of his slump, but the same can’t be said for Oswaldo Cabrera, who got off to a blazing start at the hot corner this year but has struggled badly over the past month with a .208/.253/.260 slash line in his last 25 games.

The club’s struggles to get offensive production from their infield mix are compounded by the loss of Berti, who was ice cold in six games with the club prior to being placed on the injured list in April but has heated up considerably in the month of May with a .306/.359/.389 slash line in 11 games. That production in conjunction with Berti’s experience all over the diamond except for first base and behind the plate made Berti a strong bench contributor to the Yankees’ scuffling infield, but now they’ll be without him for the foreseeable future. The Yankees have not yet announced a timeline for Berti’s return, although the utility man was seemingly unable to put weight on his leg while exiting last night’s game in the ninth inning, as noted by MLB.com.

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