Yankees could clear $6 million off the books when Harrison Bader returns

yankees, harrison bader
Oct 16, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Harrison Bader (22) reacts with left fielder Aaron Hicks (31) after hitting a two run home run against the Cleveland Guardians in the second inning during game four of the ALDS for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have started off this season at 6-3 and have numerous standout performances to boot. Guys like Franchy Cordero and Jhony Brito have been on fire to start this season, and it leaves some questions about roster construction to be asked. The biggest one that I see is what the Yankees will do with IKF when Bader returns from injury. IKF doesn’t really have a place right now, though he can play the outfield, which gives him more versatility and value. 

However, if Franchy is able to keep up his torrid start to the season, even a fraction of it, he brings more to the table than IKF. The most obvious move for the Yanks to make would be to get rid of Hicks, but it’s difficult to do so when there is no market for him. IKF still has some value, can play both the IF & the OF, and is only making $6M this season. 

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IKF was never the right fit for the Yankees:

Kiner-Falefa has started off on the wrong foot this year and has yet to reach base in the five games he’s appeared in. He’s accumulated just 12 PAs but has posted a -100 wRC+ and a -0.3 fWAR to kick off this campaign. The 28-year-old still can be an asset for certain teams, and I think it’s in everyone’s best interest if he gets moved. 

IKF’s time with the organization hasn’t been great, though I do admire his willingness to do whatever he can to help the team. He willingly talked to Boone and said he’s fine being moved from shortstop to a utility role, and he has also tried to make things happen. He’s not looked bad in the outfield, though it’s still too early to tell if that’ll stick for him. 

Last year, he played 142 games and was the definition of a stopgap player. He posted a 1.4 fWAR, with an 85 wRC+, and was one of the few guys in the lineup who didn’t strike out but didn’t reach base. He has decent speed and is still a very good defensive 3B. However, I’m not sure if there will be a place for him as this year progresses. 

The Pirates recently lost Oneil Cruz with a fractured ankle, so maybe there’s a spot for him there. It’s tough to gauge trades for someone like IKF because the market is so small for a utility player with no real offensive upside. Other teams could include the Rockies, Reds, Nationals, and other teams that aren’t contending this season. 

If the Yanks move him, don’t expect a king’s ransom in return:

If the Yankees were to move him, I don’t believe they’d get much in return. Unlike the Joey Gallo deal, where they received Clayton Beeter for him, IKF doesn’t have nearly the same ceiling as Joey did and does. Gallo didn’t work out for the Dodgers, but Beeter has been flourishing with the Yankees and continues to fly up prospect lists. 

Isiah Kiner-Falefa is far from the worst player in the league, but the match with the Yankees just hasn’t worked out. He can still be an asset on certain teams; I just don’t see how he gets any reps when Bader returns from injury. Both he and Hicks are on the outside looking in, though, as previously stated, the market for Hicks is barebones. 

Hicks is making $30 million over this year and the next two seasons, is 33 years old, and has shown that he can’t really bring much to the table offensively. He still works walks, and that’ll always be his best attribute, but aside from that, it leaves more to be desired. Hicks should be dealt, but it’s easier said than done. Whereas with IKF, he still is just 28, making far less money, and can play across the diamond. 

Moving IKF for a mid-tier prospect, or even a competitive balance pick, could be the best option for the Yankees. They will likely have to figure out the roster construction sooner than later, so why not look to move guys that don’t have a place in New York? IKF has had a great attitude with the team and has been able to battle through adversity, but why continue to subject him to the relentless boo’s and fans’ dismay. 

I believe there is a market for him and that the Yankees will be more active in the coming weeks. If IKF is moved, don’t expect a return to move you, but instead, think of it as a way the team saves payroll and looks toward the future.