Should the Yankees bring back polarizing utility man on new deal?

MLB: Texas Rangers at New York Yankees

New York Yankees utilityman Isiah Kiner-Falefa embodies the mental toughness and relentless determination characteristic of a soldier. Routinely facing a barrage of boos and criticism from his own fan base, Kiner-Falefa hasn’t flinched. Instead, he has doubled down, honing his skills and even taking up the daunting task of learning a new position—center field—where he showcased some commendable defensive skills throughout the 2023 season.

The Offensive Struggles: A Cause for Concern?

However, it’s not all roses for Kiner-Falefa. The Yankee faithful have been growing increasingly impatient with his inconsistent offensive production. Although there were moments that hinted at improvement, his hitting metrics suggest otherwise. Boasting an 82 wRC+ and a less-than-ideal batting line of .240/.306/.340, Kiner-Falefa’s offensive contributions remain questionable at best.

The Financials: Kiner-Falefa’s Free Agency Looms

The utilityman earned $6 million in 2023 and is staring down the barrel of free agency as soon as the World Series concludes. This brings us to the burning question: Should the Yankees re-sign him for the next season?

To Re-Sign or Not: What Should the Yankees Do?

There’s a section of the fanbase that argues in favor of offering him a new contract. They point to his unwavering work ethic and defensive flexibility—his proficiency extends to playing catcher, second base, third base, shortstop, and even outfield positions. No one’s disputing that Kiner-Falefa’s gloved hand is a versatile asset, and he’s even got a bit of speed to boot.

But let’s not forget: hitting is the cornerstone of baseball and often the make-or-break factor in contract negotiations. In that aspect, Isiah Kiner-Falefa falls short. Despite his best efforts, he simply cannot deliver consistent offensive output to warrant anything more than a backup role.

If Kiner-Falefa is open to a lower-cost, short-term contract to serve as a backup, keeping him in the roster might not be the worst decision. However, placing him in a regular position would be a disastrous move. Furthermore, retaining him even as a backup could potentially snatch a roster spot from promising young prospects in the Yankees’ pipeline. Given this scenario, the Yankees might be better off allowing Kiner-Falefa to test the free agency waters.

Without a conclusion but with plenty to ponder, the Yankees have a significant decision to make regarding Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s future in the Bronx.

After all, he hasn’t been able to post a single season with even average offensive performance yet, in six tries.

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