Currently in limbo, the Yankees have Gleyber Torres, Oswald Peraza, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, DJ LeMahieu, and Josh Donaldson waiting in the wings. LeMahieu is penciled in as an everyday starter if his toe is healthy. Still, there is a genuine possibility that general manager Brian Cashman will try to trade IKF, Donaldson, or Torres, depending on who wins the battles.
But barring injuries, a trade of second baseman Gleyber Torres, shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa or third baseman Josh Donaldson eventually might be necessary to clear the impending logjam.Via Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
The Yankees have too many players that won’t get playing time:
The Yankees simply can’t afford to bench multiple big-money players, especially since Gleyber Torres projects to earn around $10 million in arbitration. Donaldson will consume $21 million in base salary, and IKF signed a one-year, $6 million deal to stick around.
Looking at their individual numbers, Donaldson hit .222 with a .308 OBP, 15 homers, and 62 RBIs during his 36-year-old season. He was a borderline Gold Glove third baseman, but his offensive metrics took a nosedive, making his position vulnerable on the roster. It is possible they simply DFA him so Cashman can save some face instead of letting him rot on the bench while LeMahieu features as the everyday player on the hot corner.
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Ultimately, if Cashman could’ve found a team to take on Donaldson’s contract, he would’ve already been traded. Nonetheless, the more likely scenario is that the Yankees offload IKF or Torres, two players who actually have a bit of value, rather than Donaldson, who comes with a significant amount of baggage and a hefty price tag to go with it.
Kiner-Falefa, 27, hit .261 with a .314 OBP, four homers, and 48 RBIs last season. He did steal 22 bags but posted an 85 wRC+ — he’s never cracked a 100 wRC+, a number that represents league-average players. By those numbers, IKF was 15% worse than the average MLB player in 2022, playing 1,185 innings at shortstop and recording a .970 fielding percentage. The thing about IKF is that he makes rangy plays and showcases athleticism on defense, but he fails to make routine plays look easy, which unfortunately impacted the team negatively last season, especially during the playoffs.
Given the fact Oswald Peraza projects to win the starting shortstop job, Kiner-Falefa would likely be the odd man out. Torres, on the other hand, is coming off of a bounce-back season, hitting .257 with a .310 OBP, 24 homers, and 76 RBIs. He had his best defensive season as a professional in 2022 and his projections have him performing even better in 2023.
Torres has the most value of the bunch, without question, but the Yankees don’t necessarily want to move him unless they’re getting a fair return. If they gained a solid player to plug left field or great bullpen support, it might sway Cashman’s mind, but for the time being, Gleyber has much more value on the team than off of it.
To conclude, all directions point toward Isiah Kiner-Falefa as the most tradeable piece, given his low price tag and starting-level talent. While he only has one year left of control until he hits free agency, he can plug third base or shortstop for a team in need, opening up more flexibility for the infielders currently on the roster.