The New York Yankees still have an opportunity to trade one of their utility pieces for cash allocations and potentially a low-level prospect. The reality is Isiah Kiner-Falefa isn’t providing much value to the Bombers, filling in at centerfield every now and then in the absence of Harrison Bader. However, most believed that IKF would get more opportunities with Josh Donaldson injuring his hamstring, but the team promptly promoted Oswald Peraza and have utilized DJ LeMahieu as their primary hot-corner solution.
Unfortunately, the 28-year-old infielder has lost all of his value on the team. In fact, aside from playing a few reps in the outfield, the Yankees have even utilized IKF as their pitcher during a blowout last week. Seemingly, there’s no position he can’t play, but his quality is below average at each one, barring third base, where he’s won a Gold Glove in the past.
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The Yankees aren’t giving Isiah Kiner-Falefa enough at-bats to show any consistency:
Traditionally, IKF is a .262 career average hitter, but he’s hitting just .115 with a .115 OBP this season across 26 plate appearances. He currently hosts a -48 wRC+ and -0.5 WAR, indicating he has been a liability across-the-board for the Yankees. In fact, in the bottom of the 8th inning, with an opportunity to win the game on Wednesday night, IKF struck out miserably despite his contact hitter label. He simply cannot be trusted in high-level situations, and the only reason he’s getting opportunities at all is because of injuries.
When the Yankees get Harrison Bader back into the lineup and starting in centerfield, IKF will likely ride the bench until general manager Brian Cashman finds a trade partner.
There are teams out there with infield needs, and IKF can easily fill a stopgap situation or provide adequate depth defensively. As an offensive piece, his career-high on-base percentage is .329, suggesting he doesn’t walk much and delivers weak contact. For a team that focuses on contact hitting, he certainly fits the bill, but the Yankees have no need for him at this point in time.
There is plenty of reason to respect Kiner-Falefa, who realized his role as an infielder was lost during spring training. He suggested moving to the outfield, where could provide some value, to which manager Aaron Boone complied.
Nonetheless, his inconsistencies as a hitter this season and lack of production have hurt the Yankees on multiple occasions, so it might be time to cut bait and try to save every dollar they can. They can still save close to $6 million, given it’s still the beginning of the year, and a prospective team would have to pay the majority of his salary.