The New York Yankees are prepared to create a position battle at shortstop in just a few weeks during spring training. Oswald Peraza is expected to get a fair crack at the starting job, but management has also indicated that Anthony Volpe will have an opportunity to compete as well. Among the three youngsters, their trade acquisition from last off-season, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, is also in line to try and retain his job as a stopgap solution.
IKF is coming off a polarizing season with the Yankees. At 27 years old, he hit .261 with a .314 on-base percentage, four homers, 40 RBIs, a career-high 22 stolen bases, and an 85 wRC+. He was a 1.3 WAR player, the second-highest total in his career, which doesn’t amount to much.
The Yankees are banking on Oswald Peraza winning the job:
The probable scenario is that IKF loses the position battle to Peraza, who showcased solid hitting metrics and elite defense over a small sample size in 2022. If IKF ends up losing the battle, the Yankees may look to offload him and his $6 million salary, considering he can only play shortstop and third base.
With Josh Donaldson still on the roster as a reserve and Volpe expected to be called up at some point, the Yankees may want to just roll with youth instead of keeping Kiner-Falefa around to sit on the bench. Ideally, GM Brian Cashman offloads Donaldson’s excessive deal as well.
In that scenario, the Yankees could look to trade the young infielder since his cost may be more than his value as a player.
ESPN’s David Schoenfield believes that Kiner-Falefa could be on the trade block and the Red Sox fit the bill:
Hey, how about the Boston Red Sox and Yankees making a trade for (Isiah) Kiner-Falefa? With Trevor Story sidelined for most of the coming season, the Red Sox need a shortstop.
With Trevor Story expected to miss most of the 2023 season with an elbow injury, they now desperately need another infielder. Kiner-Falefa fits the bill nicely as a stopgap until Story is recovered, opening up an opportunity for the Yankees to add some prospects in exchange and cash considerations to help them dip their feet back into the free agent market.
The Yankees will need a bit of cash heading into the season if they need to sign any bullpen arms or bolster any specific positions. However, they would be committing fully to their youth agenda, which has been on the docket for quite some time.
It is hard to tell when Volpe will get a realistic opportunity to join the top team, but if he stands out during spring training, he could find his way playing for the Yankees sooner rather than later. Hopefully, they don’t wait until August or September to call him up just to manipulate his service time.