Yankees: 3 reasons to be excited about new shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa

isiah kiner-falefa, yankees

The New York Yankees recently executed a blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Twins, plugging third base and shortstop while adding another catcher to compete with Kyle Higashioka.

Taking on the two years and $50 million left on Josh Donaldson’s contract might not be ideal, but the Yankees feel as though they upgraded at the hot corner offensively.

As for shortstop, Isiah Kiner-Falefa was clearly the target in this trade, injecting him into the infield as their stopgap for the next two seasons until Anthony Volpe is ready to start his career in the majors.



Yankees trade with the Twins:

-Gary Sanchez

-Gio Urshela

For

-Josh Donaldson

-Isiah Kiner-Falefa

-Ben Rortvedt

Three reasons to be excited about Kiner-Falefa:

1.) Elite defense

Kiner-Falefa is only 26 years old and will hit free agency in 2024. He’s currently arbitration-eligible, but with two years of team control left for the Yankees, he fits the bill perfectly.

While Kiner-Falefa isn’t going to launch home runs at of consistent rate, his defense is where his value presents itself. Last season, he recorded a .972 fielding percentage over 1360 innings. Isiah posted 19 errors, 88 double-plays, and 214 putouts. Comparably to Gleyber Torres, his success rate at shortstop is significantly better. Torres posted a .952 fielding percentage last season with 19 errors over 915 innings.

At the very least, Kiner-Falefa offers the Bombers fantastic support in the infield, which is exactly what they need to help win games.

2.) Solid contact hitting

Kiner-Falefa only hit eight homers last season, but he did record a .271 average with 53 RBIs. His 13.3% strikeout rate is lower than the Yankees average by a significant margin, but he’s not exactly a patient batter, walking just 4.1% of the time.

The former Texas Ranger recorded 136 singles, 25 doubles, and three triples last season, picking up 20 stolen bases in the process. His average has ballooned the past two seasons, so if the Yankees can help him add a slugging element to his bat, he could be a far more productive hitter compared to his time down south.



3.) Perfect stop-gap

It is clear now that general manager Brian Cashman was looking for a stopgap solution so he could wait for Anthony Volpe to reach the big leagues. Cashman has raved about Volpe’s development and growth the past few seasons, and this upcoming minor league season will give him a fantastic sample size of experience to showcase his qualities.

With Volpe projecting to reach the bigs by 2023, the team control for Kiner-Falefa makes perfect sense. With two years of cushion, they can ease Volpe into the lineup, giving him opportunities to supplement injury or take part in blowout wins. With Isiah, the Yankees can smooth over the transition without skipping a beat.