Many believed that the New York Yankees would trade infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa ahead of opening day, but instead, they are keen on utilizing his utility options, having started him on several occasions in the outfield during spring training.
For context, the 28-year-old has never played an inning in the outfield during his professional career, which dates back to 2018. He has experienced reps at second base, shortstop, third base, and even 73 games at catcher with the Texas Rangers back in his younger days.
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However, the Yankees are gearing up to utilize IKF in the outfield, potentially as soon as Sunday, according to manager Aaron Boone.
The Yankees are trying to get any worth from Isiah Kiner-Falefa:
Kiner-Falefa has had a bumpy start to his tenure in the Bronx, hitting .261 with a .314 OBP, including four homers and 48 RBIs last season across 142 games. He also stole 22 bases, a career-high, logging an 85 wRC+ and 1.4 WAR. Defensively, he played 1,185 innings at shortstop and 42 innings on the hot corner. He posted 10 defensive runs saved but -1 outs above average with a .970 fielding percentage and 15 errors at short.
Of course, top prospect Anthony Volpe is taking over the position full-time, moving IKF into a depth role. Given DJ LeMahieu‘s existence and Josh Donaldson holding down third base, there aren’t enough reps to go around to get IKF involved. That is why they’re getting him some outfield opportunities, testing his resiliency and performance in a big-league scenario.
The Yankees also have Aaron Hicks as serviceable depth since they’ve been rolling with Oswaldo Cabrera as the primary starter in LF to open the year.