Yankees manager Aaron Boone is happy to have new utility man Jon Berti on hand with DJ LeMahieu out.

Getty Yankees manager Aaron Boone is happy to have new utility man Jon Berti on hand with DJ LeMahieu out.

The Yankees may have dodged a bullet when the foot injury suffered by veteran third baseman DJ LeMahieu turned out to be a bone bruise rather than anything broken or fractured. But it’s a severe enough bone bruise to keep LeMahieu out for the start of the season and, worried about depth in the infield in general, the Yankees pulled off a three-team trade on Wednesday, fewer than 30 hours before Opening Day gets underway in Houston.

The Yankees traded for Marlins veteran utility man Jon Berti, who is expected to get significant playing time early in the year in place of LeMahieu at third. Berti is capable of playing all over the infield, though, and has experience in the outfield. In six seasons, Berti has made 85 starts at second base, 119 starts at third base and 86 starts at shortstop. He’s started 63 games in the outfield.

To complete the deal, the Yankees had to send 18-year old outfield prospect John Cruz to the Marlins, and sent 26-year-old backup catcher Ben Rortvedt to Tampa Bay. The Rays sent another prospect, outfielder Shane Sasaki, to the Marlins.


Yankees Get Crucial Depth Piece Even Beyond DJ LeMahieu Injury

Adding Berti brought some comfort to manager Aaron Boone, who had concerns about the lack of bench depth that might have been exposed with the injury to LeMahieu, a three-time All-Star who signed a six-year, $90 million deal with the club in 2021.

“I’m really excited about this. I feel like we’re getting a really good player,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Wednesday, per The Athletic. “With DJ being down, he very much figures in to the third base mix.

“Hopefully, when we’re whole, he serves as a guy who can play all over the infield, even play some outfield. Quality hitter, bat-to-ball, can steal a base — I think he’s going to be a really good addition for us, whether he’s playing in an everyday role or in that utility role.”

For his career, Berti has been a .258 hitter with a .337 on-base percentage. He hit a career-best .294 last year, and two years ago, he led the National League in stolen bases with 41. He has 92 steals in six years, and has been caught only 20 times.


Sigh of Relief for Aaron Boone

Before the deal for Berti, Boone had been looking at the likelihood of having Oswaldo Cabrera serve as the starting third baseman in the absence of LeMahieu. But Cabrera is the team’s top backup shortstop and first baseman, and needing to use him daily at third would have sapped the Yankees bench.

That was a major concern for a team that is decidedly top-heavy. But adding a professional utility guy like Berti should help in the short and long terms for the Yankees.

“Before a few hours ago, I was concerned about our infield depth and our bench, how we were going to maneuver that,” Boone said. “I feel like that improved a lot today.”

As for LeMahieu, he will start the season on the injured list. According to the Daily News, Boone had no update on his health on Wednesday, but was asked whether he expected LeMahieu’s absence to be short.

“I hope so, but I don’t know. Because I wouldn’t say he got shut down,” Boone said. “I know he went out for some ground balls that one day [and] it wasn’t great. Pain is still in there, so we want it to kind of be things that you’re able to tolerate. So whether that turns into hitting and fielding in a couple of days, I don’t know. But I know when he went out the other day and tried that, it wasn’t good enough.”

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