The New York Yankees are facing a conundrum in the infield during spring training, with the only situated position seemingly 1st base with Anthony Rizzo. Third base, shortstop, and second base are all up for grabs, with overturn expected.
Whoever ends up losing the position battles could end up being traded since the Yankees would have a surplus of options at their disposal. Several players have actual value that might be able to return some decent prospects or major league talent.
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Two infielders the Yankees could end up trading this off-season:
1.) Isiah Kiner-Falefa
Oswald Peraza is expected to win the starting shortstop job, making Isiah Kiner-Falefa and his one-year, $6 million deal expendable. IKF can play shortstop and third base, but the Yankees also have Josh Donaldson and DJ LeMahieu on the roster, making him the odd man out in this scenario. He does have a bit of value since he’s capable of starting at both positions, and there are teams out there that need infield talent.
The Yankees don’t want to utilize IKF as an everyday starter moving forward since the 27-year-old struggled in 2022 after being acquired from the Minnesota Twins before the season began. Over 142 games, Kiner-Falefa posted a .261 average, .314 OBP, four homers, 40 RBIs, 22 stolen bases, and an 85 wRC+. He was a 1.3 WAR player but projects to have a 0.9 WAR in 2023, per his Steamer projections.
Defensively, he recorded a .970 fielding percentage across 1,185 innings. He accrued 15 errors with 10 defensive runs saved above average and -2 outs above average. His inability to field routine ground balls caused a bit of a ruckus, eventually leading to his benching in the ALDS against the Twins.
At this point, offloading the $6 million he’s owed for the 2023 season might end up being the team’s best option, especially if he can garner some low-tier prospects in return and reallocate his salary elsewhere.
2.) Gleyber Torres
As much as trading Gleyber Torres seems like a bad move, when Anthony Volpe eventually makes the leap to the majors, somebody will need to make way.
Unfortunately for Torres, he seems like the most expendable piece since DJ LeMahieu will likely be situated on the hot corner. Torres expects to have a solid 2023 season, with projections indicating he will hit .262 with a .327 OBP, 23 homers, and 73 RBIs with a 120 wRC+.
Of course, these projections could be way off for a myriad of different reasons, but coming off a bounce-back 2022 campaign where he hit .257 with a .310 OBP and 24 homers, there’s reason to believe he’s found his groove again.
Providing solid offensive and impressive defense last season cements his job at 2B for the time being, but his tenure as a starter is directly correlated to Volpe’s success. Suppose Volpe shines in spring training and justifies calling him up sooner. In that case, general manager Brian Cashman could move Torres at his highest value since 2019, getting back some decent talent in return.
There are several teams that could jump at the bit regarding a Gleyber acquisition, particularly since he only hits free agency in 2025 and will probably earn about $10 million this year to offer above-average metrics in most categories.
Ultimately, his future with the team is heavily reliant on Volpe and the role he takes on this upcoming season.