The New York Yankees have been testing a few different alignments during spring training to prepare for Opening Day in just two weeks. Part of their creativity has been moving Isiah Kiner-Falefa around the infield, but their plans to increase his trade value have taken a turn, expecting to start him in centerfield this week.
IKF was seen snagging fly balls in a CF on Tuesday afternoon ahead of a non-televised game in the evening.
The Yankees are certainly taking an od approach with Isiah Kiner-Falefa:
There are two different perspectives to consider when debating IKF participating in the outfield. Either the Yankees simply don’t see him as a legitimate option at shortstop or third base, or they are trying to build his trade stock.
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The problem is that the 27-year-old has never enjoyed any outfield reps in his major league career but spent some time there during his minor-league days. Nonetheless, it has been quite some time since he’s enjoyed any success at a position other than shortstop and third base — even that is debatable.
With Oswaldo Cabrera as the team’s primary utility man in the outfield, the IKF experiment suggests the Yankees don’t consider him a legitimate option at any specific position. There’s no chance he suddenly grabs an outfield spot and runs with it, so this must be a play on his utility value other teams may be intrigued by.
This spring, IKF is hitting .263 with a .348 OBP, five hits, and a homer across 19 at-bats. He’s begun to heat up a bit over the past few days, elevating his number significantly. Nonetheless, with Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe looking good so far, one of them will take over a starting infield job. Unless the Yankees trade Gleyber Torres before Opening Day, Volpe may end up back in Triple-A with Scranton for a few months until they can find a partner for Gleyber.
Recouping the $6 million owed to Kiner-Falefa after the 2023 season seems like the best course of action, especially if they can return a prospect. Several teams, including the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers, could use starting infield support, meaning Brian Cashman may be busy over the next two weeks.
The Yankees’ general manager did indicate that the second half of spring training typically offers more trade opportunities, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a few moves went down.