With Opening Day drawing near for the New York Yankees, they still have a big decision to make in the infield. They currently have a log jam unfolding, including a position battle at shortstop. Considering how well Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza have performed during spring action, the prospect of trading Isiah Kiner-Falefa could be even more beneficial.
Teams don’t often make trades before spring training comes to an end, so I wouldn’t expect the Yankees to move any of their infielders until the last week or so once they have more answers regarding their starting alignment.
However, IKF is the obvious choice to be moved, considering the Yanks stand to save $6 million on his contract and would open up his role to Oswaldo Cabrera, a much cheaper alternative. Obviously, that would suggest that either Volpe or Peraza wins a starting job, cementing Gleyber Torres at second base for the time being.
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Volpe has looked phenomenal this spring, posting five hits, one homer, one RBI, and two stolen bases across 15 at-bats. Even his outs are hard-hit balls and quality contact.
At 21 years old, most still believe he will end up at Triple-A with Scranton, but he’s certainly putting together a strong case to be elevated now to the majors. On the other hand, Peraza has recorded two hits over nine at-bats, including a stolen base. Regarding Peraza, the 22-year-old is known for his elite gold glove level defense, so his offensive contributions are certainly a major question.
With that being said, the youth movement is certainly coming to the Yankees’ infield, which could push IKF out. The Los Angeles Dodgers certainly fit the bill as a team that could be intrigued by his services.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale stated:
“Now that Los Angeles Dodgers are without shortstop Gavin Lux for the season, look for them to re-visit trade talks with the New York Yankees about Isiah Kiner-Falefa. The trouble, however, is that Kiner-Falefa is earning $6 milion and the Dodgers would like to re-set their luxury tax to pursue Shohei Ohtani without any restrictions.”
The Yankees can gain more from trading Isiah Kiner-Falefa than keeping him:
IKF is on a one-year, $6 million deal, so any club that acquired him will see the money fall off the books in 2024. In the meantime, he’s a more than capable starter that offers contact hitting and good range at shortstop. His defensive metrics contradict each other, posting 10 defensive runs saved last year at shortstop across 1,185 innings and -2 outs above average. If not for Anthony Rizzo’s ability to scoop balls out of the dirt, IKF’s error numbers would be lofty.
Nonetheless, considering manager Aaron Boone has indicated that Cabrera can play at any position and they’ve utilized him heavily at third base recently, they could be preparing him for the reality of the utility role across the board.
“With what he’s shown us so far, you feel good about him anywhere on the field,” Boone said. “I don’t necessarily see him being a regular center fielder for us at any point, but I could see it in a certain game when things get moved around. I want to get him at least exposed to it.”
DJ LeMahieu also needs at-bats and starting reps, so IKF is the apparent odd man out. Even if the team won’t admit he’s at the bottom of the totem pole regarding value, it’s not difficult to break down the numbers and realize he’s more of a roadblock for the team’s youth than anything else. Remember, he was supposed to be a stopgap solution, after all.