The New York Yankees are desperately trying to extract any remaining value out of Isiah Kiner-Falefa, once expected to be their stop-gap at shortstop and is now seemingly the odd man out in a log jam.
The infield is composed of several youngsters and veteran players, notably incumbents Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe. The veterans include Josh Donaldson, DJ LeMahieu, and IKF. Of course, LeMahieu is an essential piece to the puzzle, whereas Donaldson could quickly be benched if the Yankees wanted to construct a different starting alignment.
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However, the Bombers have been moving IKF around the infield spontaneously, trying to see his positional value and if he can increase his stock. General manager Brian Cashman did indicate that trades tend to heat up during the second half of spring training. With several teams needing infield support, IKF certainly stands out as a primary trade piece. In fact, it seems as if he’s noticed the Yankees moving him around and Volpe and Peraza are gunning for starting jobs.
“That’s three in a row moving around,” Kiner-Falefa said over the weekend. “I don’t want to make too much of it, but it’s definitely something.”
The Yankees have to figure out their infield log jam at some point:
Kiner-Falefa isn’t the only infielder to potentially hit the trade block, as Gleyber Torres also may find himself playing for a new team at some point during the 2023 season. Torres is currently featuring in the World Baseball Classic as a part of team Venezuela. Missing out on spring training may not have any impact on his role moving forward, but it certainly gives the team time to construct a starting infield that doesn’t include him in it.
Ultimately, the reps Torres would’ve garnered are being shifted over to Volpe and Peraza, and with the way the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect is performing, they may have no choice but to elevate him.
Regarding IKF, though, the Yankees are planning to have him play some outfield in the coming days, which is a mind-blowing scenario. Trying to expand on his utility value is undoubtedly a bold strategy by manager Aaron Boone, who is clearly trying to boost his stock.
However, there are two ways to view IKF playing in the outfield: he’s capable of featuring in multiple spots, which another team could see as a benefit. Alternatively, it suggests IKF isn’t good enough to compete in the infield with two rookies, and the Yankees would instead test him at a position he’s never played before.
Isiah spent some time in the outfield during his minor league career but has never played the position at the MLB level, so this move by the Bombers is interesting.
Nonetheless, saving the $6 million owed to Kiner-Falefa and potentially getting a low-level prospect in return could end up being the best use of his value right now.