Yankees lose trade partner for Isiah Kiner-Falefa as Opening Day approaches

isiah kiner-falefa, yankees
Mar 1, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa (12) throws the ball for an out during the third inning against the Washington Nationals at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Given the fact that the New York Yankees have been moving Isiah Kiner-Falefa around the infield and even started him in center field during Friday afternoons game, it is safe to say they are trying to expand on his value.

There is no point in shifting IKF into a utility role, considering the Yankees already have DJ LeMahieu and Oswaldo Cabrera helping in that regard. Nonetheless, trying to boost his stock via trade and offloading the 6 million owed to him for the 2023 season certainly seems like a positive move.

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The Yankees may actually have a tough time trading Isiah Kiner-Falefa:

However, the Yankees may not have the robust market they imagined for the veteran infielder since the Los Angeles Dodgers don’t seem to be interested, and only a number of teams are seeking a starting infielder.

The Dodgers were a prime suspect to have interest in IKF after Gavin Lux suffered a torn ACL, ending his season prematurely.

The Dodgers don’t seem interested in Isiah Kiner-Falefa, as they likely consider him too much like current starter Miguel Rojas. … 

Per the New York Post.

It seems as if the Dodgers are ready to go in a different direction since most teams view IKF as a stopgap, having never recorded a wRC+ above 93 in his career. In 2022, he posted an 85 wRC+ and 1.3 WAR, hitting .261 with a .314 OBP, four homers, 40 RBIs, and a career-high 22 stolen bases. While he doesn’t strike out at a lofty rate, recording a 13.6% margin last season, he doesn’t generate great contact, which is indicated by his 31.4% on-base rate yet solid .261 batting average.

Defensively, different metrics contradict one another since he posted 10 defensive runs saved last year at shortstop but -2 outs above average. While IKF has decent range, he struggles fielding routine ground balls, which has given the Yankees the green light to start Oswald Peraza in 2023, despite Anthony Volpe making a strong push for a starting spot as well.

This spring, Kiner-Falefa is hovering around his averages, hitting .240 with a .310 OBP, six hits, and one HR over 25 at-bats. Given how Oswaldo Cabrera has performed and LeMahieu quickly returning to his efficient self, saving the $6 million from IKF’s contract is the best course of action, so I wouldn’t be surprised if general manager Brian Cashman is scouring the market for opportunities leading up to opening day.