Yankees News: Injury update on starting shortstop, Boone gushes over utility piece

isiah kiner-falefa, yankees

The New York Yankees don’t need their starting infielders to walk away with victories these days, even when their bullpen is struggling considerably to get the job done. Prior to Sunday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, which the Yankees fell 10–9 in a slugfest, manager Aaron Boone indicated that Isiah Kiner-Falefa was dealing with a left hamstring issue.

Kiner-Falefa had been an extremely reliable option at shortstop for the Yankees all season, and luckily, his hamstring issue isn’t considered to be anything serious. He was available to come off the bench on Monday. The Bombers wanted to give him rest now instead of potentially aggravating the injury further. The Yankees sit 12 games above Toronto for first place in the AL East. They also have a six game cushion over the New York Mets in all of Major League Baseball, affording the luxury of being extra cautious with injuries.

“He’s pretty encouraged about how he feels,” Boone said before Monday’s game against Tampa. “I don’t think it’s anything that’s going to be long term.”

IKF is performing well this season despite not hitting a homerun over 228 plate appearances. He does, however, host a .273 average with a 32% on-base rate and 18 RBIs. While he doesn’t walk a whole lot at 6.6%, his 15.4% strikeout rate is nothing to be concerned about, a metric the Yankees have been plagued by in recent years.

In fact, IKF has been tremendous with runners in scoring position, hitting .308 with runners at first base and .313 with runners at first and second. He doesn’t have a batting average below .250 with runners on base in general, indicating his success rate. He’s also served valiantly at the bottom of the order, hitting .278 in the seventh slot and .289 in the eighth slot.

Boone loves his utility pieces:

To supplement Kiner-Falefa‘s injury, the Yankees have called upon Marwin Gonzalez to fill the void. Gonzalez is hitting .231 this season with a 29% on-base rate, including one homer and five RBIs. Offensively, he’s nothing to write home about. Marwin is a solid defender who can play nearly every infield spot and feature in the outfield.

“Marwin can sit over there for a week wherever you put him, whether it’s the outfield or shortstop,” Boone said before the game. “It’s a luxury to have a guy who can play shortstop like that. You know he’s going to go out there and look the part. He’s certainly done that for us through this point in the season.”

Gonzalez has made appearances at third base, shortstop, left field, and right field this season for the Bombers. His numbers at shortstop are solid, featuring a perfect fielding percentage over 67.2 innings. At the very least, he offers the Yankees consistent defensive play. He has his moments in the batter’s box as well, especially as a switch hitter.

Yankees News: Starting shortstop suffers minor injury, but dodges bullet

isiah kiner-falefa, yankees

The New York Yankees have been able to avoid significant injuries this season, despite dealing with a few in the bullpen the past few weeks. The starting infield has been healthy for the most part. Starting shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa suffered a minor left hamstring injury, which forced him to the bench on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

“We decided it was best to take it slow,’’ Kiner-Falefa said. “That way it’s just a couple days or one day [missed].”

The injury appears to be minor, and he could make a return to the lineup on Monday, which is a good sign. The Yankees lost to Toronto in the final game of a three-game series up north, 10–9. Kiner-Falefa was upset he wasn’t able to contribute and felt as though he let the team down with Gleyber Torres making the transition to shortstop.

“I was trying to secretly run back here and do stuff, just because I saw Gleyber going out there,’’ Kiner-Falefa said. “I felt like I kind of let the team down in a way today, just because we couldn’t make the switches possible.”

Fortunately for IKF, the team’s offense was lethal, but the pitching struggled to keep the ball in the ballpark. There’s nothing he could’ve done differently that would’ve helped the Yankees secure victory. The team will look to bounce back against the Tampa Bay Rays down south starting on Monday evening at 7:10 PM.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s contributions:

After being acquired from the Minnesota Twins, Kiner-Falefa has provided solid contact, getting on base at a 32% clip. He’s hitting .273 on the season with a .325 slugging percentage and 18 RBIs. He hasn’t hit a home run this season but is only striking out at a 15.4% and walking 6.6%.

General manager Brian Cashman figured he needed more men on base. IKF presents a valuable baserunner who gets on frequently, allowing the sluggers to take advantage with runners in scoring position.

Defensively, IKF has struggled at shortstop periodically, recording a .966 fielding percentage with seven errors over 531.2 innings. The former Twin and Ranger is known for his abilities at third base. He’s holding down shortstop valiantly until one of the Yankees’ top young guns reaches the MLB.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa is settling in and helping the Yankees win ballgames

isiah kiner-falefa, yankees

After an inauspicious start of his career with the New York Yankees, Isiah Kiner-Falefa is settling in as the team shortstop. He came in to the Bombers as a complementary piece in the Josh Donaldson trade, but with time, patience, and a lot of hard work, he is proving capable of being the perfect placeholder for the organization, as it waits for top prospects to develop.

On Sunday, he worked a crucial walk in a long at-bat against Kansas City Royals’ pitcher Dylan Coleman to start the seventh inning. The Yankees were losing by a run, but after the twelve-pitch base on balls to Kiner-Falefa, Anthony Rizzo was hit by a pitch and DJ LeMahieu walked.

Aaron Judge and Donaldson drove in a run apiece to turn the score around, and the Yankees wouldn’t look back. It all started with IKF.

“That’s the at-bat that sparked it all,” manager Aaron Boone said, according to Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media. “Every run we scored today, he was a big part of it,” Judge stated.

Kiner-Falefa is already up to a .303 batting average, a .721 OPS, a 113 wRC+, and two steals, with good defense at shortstop: you could say he has done a bit of everything.

The Yankees’ shortstop just wanted to give his team a competitive at-bat

About his at-bat on Sunday, he said: “I just wanted to battle. I just wanted to put up a scrappy at-bat.”

And boy, he did it.

“That’s a tough matchup,” Boone said of Kiner-Falefa’s moment. “That’s a tough right-on-right matchup there. To spoil, spoil, spoil and lay off a good 3-2 pitch — it’s a good at-bat, a winning at-bat.”

The Yankees have now won nine straight games, and IKF has been a big part of it. He is currently sporting career-highs in batting average, wRC+, OPS, average exit velocity (88.1 mph) and hard-hit rate (37.5 percent).

“What we’re going through now is something I’ve never experienced,” Kiner-Falefa said. “Just showing up to the field every day, I want to come to the field. I want to hang out with my teammates. That’s the biggest thing and the coolest thing — the camaraderie. I think if we can keep building, the sky’s the limit. We’re going to have a bumpy road. We know that’s going to happen. We just have to stick with it and pick each other up.”

Yankees get a burst of great news with SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa hitting his stride

isiah kiner-falefa, aaron judge

New York Yankees shortstop acquisition Isiah Kiner-Falefa struggled considerably to open the 2022 season. At one point, he was hitting below .100 alongside Kyle Higashioka, but since then, Kiner-Falefa’s production has skyrocketed.

In fact, it seems as if he’s gained his confidence back and is finally playing his style of baseball. It is possible the Yankees tried to tweak his fundamentals in an attempt to unlock hidden power, but his true specialty is spraying the ball all over the field and getting on base.

Last season with the Texas Rangers, Falefa posted a 13.3% strikeout rate and .271 batting average. While his launch angle hovers below 6° and his barrel percentage is at a career 1.5%, he has some capabilities other players donning the pinstripes simply don’t contain. Those range from contact hitting to good base running.

“Getting my confidence back,” Kiner-Falefa said. “I kind of forgot who I am and what I do and my game a little bit. Just getting back to who I am and what I do best — spring the ball all over.”

Over the past two games, Kiner-Falefa has dominated against the Detroit Tigers, posting a combined four hits, two runs, one RBI, and one walk over seven at-bats.

Even manager Aaron Boone noticed how well Kiner-Falefa has been swinging the bat, making great contact but also putting some underrated power behind his swing.

Falefa has elevated his average to .286 this season with a 7.9% walk rate and 18.4% strikeout rate. With his confidence quickly rising and efficiency leveling off, his strike-out rate should lower a few percentage points, providing the back-end of the batting order with a reliable player.

“A lot of good contact,” Boone said, “even up to his last at-bat where he smoked the ball for the out to the second baseman. Just getting more and more settled. I feel like (he’s) hanging on his backside better and getting off some good swings and starting to barrel some balls.”

General manager Brian Cashman made it a priority to trade for IKF, who was acquired by the Minnesota Twins just a few days prior. In the process, the Yankees had to absorb the remaining $50 million and two years on Josh Donaldson’s contract. The early return seems to be fair, but it is a long season, and the Yankees are prone to wild swings of inconsistency.

Yankees face serious problem at shortstop after first 10 games of season

isiah kiner-falefa, yankees

The New York Yankees currently host a 5–5 record on the season, but their issues appear to be very similar to the 2021 campaign. General manager Brian Cashman made it clear that the team needed to upgrade the shortstop position, but after the first 10 games of the regular season, there is no sign of improvement, despite trading for Isiah Kiner-Falefa from the Minnesota Twins.

Kiner-Falefa was a priority for Cashman, who believed his contact-hitting and better defensive traits would translate to above-average shortstop play, but he’s been replaced on multiple occasions this season due to inefficiency.

The expectation was that Gleyber Torres would move back to second base, despite DJ LeMahieu being a far better player at the position. LeMahieu has moved around the infield, being used as a super-utility man to supplement a myriad of issues. However, field manager Aaron Boone has called upon Torres to play shortstop multiple times this season, already making two appearances at the position over four innings.

The more interesting shift has been pinch-hitting Kiner-Falefa in big moments, which the Yankees hoped they could avoid considering his .271 batting average last season.

From an objective standpoint, the shortstop position remains a significant problem, and the Yankees missed out on an opportunity to land Carlos Correa on a short-term deal, having signed with the Twins this off-season. By most accounts, Cashman struck out on multiple fronts, failing to upgrade SS and going into the season without an extension for Aaron judge.

There’s a legitimate question to be asking regarding Torres and his value to the team, given he’s hitting .161 this year with one homer over 36 play appearances. Of course, the season is young, but Torres struggled similarly with his power last year, hitting just nine homers over 127 games compared to 38 over 144 in 2019. Looking at his slugging metrics, Torres’s wOBA sits at just .247 this year, a career-low. His barrel percentage is down 1.1% compared to 2019, despite his exit velocity increasing.

The analytics simply don’t tell the full story with Torres, who may be facing mental hurdles rather than physical and fundamental ones.

However, Kiner-Falefa is a whole different ball game, considering he’s barely effective as a power hitter. In fact, he recorded a 1.8% barrel rate last year and hit just 28.6% in the hard-hit percentage category. With a measly exit velocity of just 85.5 mph, the Yankees shouldn’t expect Kiner-Falefa to be an impact player in the home run category but rather to get on base frequently and provide RISP.

The issue is that neither Falefa nor Torres have shown the consistency and production the Yankees desperately need. Both have dropped to the back-end of the batting order, a section that has plagued the team’s offense to start the year.

Yankees once again facing shortstop issues after new acquisition dropped from lineup

isiah kiner-falefa, yankees

For field manager Aaron Boone, it took four games to replace New York Yankees shortstop acquisition Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the lineup. After enjoying a solid spring, Kiner-Falefa has struggled to get going at the start of the regular season, hosting a .091 average over 12 plate appearances. While it is far too soon to make any general assumptions, the Yankees didn’t only replace the former Minnesota Twin due to his offensive struggles but his defensive liabilities as well.

General manager Brian Cashman prioritized acquiring Kiner-Falefa from Minnesota, sending Gio Urshela and Gary Sanchez in the trade package. They were forced to take on a two-year, $50 million remaining on Josh Donaldson’s contract, who has been serving as the lead-off hitter to start the season.

However, Cashman believes Kiner-Falefa will be the team’s everyday shortstop until Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe are ready to make the jump.

The Yankees didn’t upgrade at shortstop at all:

Isiah has been a liability early on in the season, allowing an error over 29 innings and a .929 fielding percentage. While he recorded a .972 fielding percentage last season over 1360 innings, some believe his best position is on the hot corner at third base.

It is likely that Cashman views IKF as a stop-gap at shortstop until one of the young prospects is ready, transitioning him over to third base afterward so he can serve as a valuable piece in the infield.

In the meantime, the Bombers have already injected Gleyber Torres back into the shortstop position, despite Cashman stating that upgrading the spot was a necessity this past off-season. In one of baseball’s most luxurious shortstop free agent classes, the Yankees sat quietly with no intention of making a move.

It is disappointing to see that the Yankees were forced to make a defensive shift after just four games with their new shortstop acquisition. While IKF will undoubtedly be back in the lineup shortly, having already committed an error and suffered significant deficiencies at the plate, it is not exactly the start the Yankees were hoping for at a position everybody knew was a liability, to begin with.

Yankees might have made genius move at shortstop to fill stop-gap role

isiah kiner-falefa, yankees

This off-season has been a whirlwind for the New York Yankees, but things are coming together as spring training quickly comes to an end. Opening day is one week away, and while the starting rotation has had its fair share of hiccups, the team’s offensive prowess has been phenomenal, paired with quality defensive displays.

One of the biggest concerns this off-season was the shortstop position, which general manager Brian Cashman solved in a massive trade with the Minnesota Twins.

The Yankees acquired Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Josh Donaldson, and Ben Rortvedt in exchange for Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela. Essentially, the Bombers took on the final two years and $50 million from Donaldson’s contract, but they had their eyes set on Kiner-Falefa as their stopgap shortstop.

Falefa isn’t known for his power hitting, smacking just eight homers last year over 158 games. However, he is a quality contact hitter that displays patience and maturity at the plate.

Last season, he hit .271 with just a 13.3% strikeout rate and a 4.1% walk rate. The Yankees have a slugging approach and have slowly been factoring in their fundamentals, giving Falefa a bit more power behind his swing.

This spring training, Falefa is dominating, posting a. 421 average, .924 OPS, eight hits, and just one strikeout over 19 at-bats.

When looking at the former Texas Ranger objectively, he’s not going to be a massive slugger in the middle of the order for the Bombers, but he fits a specific role perfectly.

The main benefit he brings — he can get on base frequently.

The Yankees have a plethora of heavy hitters scattered throughout the batting order, so Falefa getting on base will only drive in more runs. In addition, he’s a solid defensive player as well, featuring a .972 fielding percentage last year at shortstop over 1,360 innings.

The returns from Isiah have already been fruitful, but it is only spring training, and he needs to be consistent during the regular season. Nonetheless, this might end up being a magisterial move from Cashman, especially since Kiner-Falefa could transition to third base in the future once Donaldson’s contract expires and Anthony Volpe is ready for the big leagues.

Yankees: 3 reasons to be excited about new shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa

isiah kiner-falefa, yankees

The New York Yankees recently executed a blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Twins, plugging third base and shortstop while adding another catcher to compete with Kyle Higashioka.

Taking on the two years and $50 million left on Josh Donaldson’s contract might not be ideal, but the Yankees feel as though they upgraded at the hot corner offensively.

As for shortstop, Isiah Kiner-Falefa was clearly the target in this trade, injecting him into the infield as their stopgap for the next two seasons until Anthony Volpe is ready to start his career in the majors.

Yankees trade with the Twins:

-Gary Sanchez

-Gio Urshela

For

-Josh Donaldson

-Isiah Kiner-Falefa

-Ben Rortvedt

Three reasons to be excited about Kiner-Falefa:

1.) Elite defense

Kiner-Falefa is only 26 years old and will hit free agency in 2024. He’s currently arbitration-eligible, but with two years of team control left for the Yankees, he fits the bill perfectly.

While Kiner-Falefa isn’t going to launch home runs at of consistent rate, his defense is where his value presents itself. Last season, he recorded a .972 fielding percentage over 1360 innings. Isiah posted 19 errors, 88 double-plays, and 214 putouts. Comparably to Gleyber Torres, his success rate at shortstop is significantly better. Torres posted a .952 fielding percentage last season with 19 errors over 915 innings.

At the very least, Kiner-Falefa offers the Bombers fantastic support in the infield, which is exactly what they need to help win games.

2.) Solid contact hitting

Kiner-Falefa only hit eight homers last season, but he did record a .271 average with 53 RBIs. His 13.3% strikeout rate is lower than the Yankees average by a significant margin, but he’s not exactly a patient batter, walking just 4.1% of the time.

The former Texas Ranger recorded 136 singles, 25 doubles, and three triples last season, picking up 20 stolen bases in the process. His average has ballooned the past two seasons, so if the Yankees can help him add a slugging element to his bat, he could be a far more productive hitter compared to his time down south.

3.) Perfect stop-gap

It is clear now that general manager Brian Cashman was looking for a stopgap solution so he could wait for Anthony Volpe to reach the big leagues. Cashman has raved about Volpe’s development and growth the past few seasons, and this upcoming minor league season will give him a fantastic sample size of experience to showcase his qualities.

With Volpe projecting to reach the bigs by 2023, the team control for Kiner-Falefa makes perfect sense. With two years of cushion, they can ease Volpe into the lineup, giving him opportunities to supplement injury or take part in blowout wins. With Isiah, the Yankees can smooth over the transition without skipping a beat.

Yankees facing big problem as top two stop-gap options gone from shortstop market

isiah kiner-falefa, andrelton simmons, yankees

It is no secret that the New York Yankees desperately need a new shortstop to feature during the 2022 season. The consensus was that the Yankees would settle for a stopgap option during the lockout while Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza climbed the farm system.

However, with free agency opening back up, reports indicated that Carlos Correa was still on their priority list, presenting an interesting decision for general manager Brian Cashman and Co.

Do the Yankees remain committed to their youth and sign a player on a two-year contract, or do they swing for the fences and go with the monster deal worth over $300 million?

Based on how the market has already unfolded, the Yankees are already down two of their best stopgap options.

Yankees have already lost their top two stop-gap options at shortstop:

Isiah Kiner-Falefa:

The Yankees were connected to Texas Rangers infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa during the lockout as a potential solution to their shortstop void. Defensively, Falefa is a fantastic shortstop that would’ve offered them above-average play in that category.

However, his offensive capabilities were limited, especially when it comes to his slugging. He posted a .271 average last season with eight homers and 53 RBIs, showcasing decent contact hitting. His offensive attributes don’t exactly fit the Yankees preferred strengths, which is why they likely didn’t jump into the trade market looking to acquire him. The Minnesota Twins ended up trading for Kiner-Falefa, giving up catcher Mitch Garver and another player in the process.

Andrelton Simmons:

The cheapest stopgap option for the Yankees on the free-agent market would’ve been Andrelton Simmons, who signed a one-year, $4 million deal with incentives to join the Chicago Cubs.

Simmons and the Yankees would’ve been a stretch connection, to begin with, given his serious offensive limitations. Simmons has hit double-digit homers in the past, over three years ago when he smashed 11 back in 2018. His average dipped to .223 this past season, hitting three homers over 451 plate appearances. At 32 years old, Simmons seems to have taken a big dip in production, so the Yankees passing on him was a good decision.

However, with two of the top short-term options off the market, that leaves Carlos Correa and Trevor Story as the primary free agents to consider. If I were to put my money on it, I would imagine a Yankees will grab one of those two players, whether it be Correa on a massive deal or Story on a short-term but big-money contract.

Yankees should engage with Rangers for a stop-gap shortstop solution

yankees, rangers, Isiah Kiner-Falefa

With the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations dragging on, endangering the start of spring training, the New York Yankees are going to have to pounce and quickly once and if a new agreement can be reached.

Sewing up a shortstop and first baseman should be their number one priority. With the new season quickly approaching this month, it should be pointed out that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred could facilitate transactions by dropping the lockout and continuing the present CBA while discussions continue.

If Manfred would allow transactions or a new CBA reached, the Yankees have some big problems/holes to fill. Although it seems to be a complex problem, this writer believes they could solve it easily and quickly. Keeping in mind that owner Hal Steinbrenner has said the purse is open, he surely will want to keep expenses under control, my resolution also does that.

Believing the Yankees will sign Carlos Correa at short and Freddie Freeman at first base is more a pipedream. My belief is that they will spend for neither of these stars.

Here’s the plan: Once the lockout is over, re-sign Anthony Rizzo for first base and engage with the Texas Rangers, with who they have worked together before successfully, and trade for shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa as a stopgap.

This would allow the team to work on getting some help in center field and another starting pitcher to bolster the pitching staff after the exit of Corey Kluber, who is now with the Tampa Bay Rays. Although Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Anthony Rizzo are not huge stars, the Yankees fans might want to see, they are significant upgrades from Gleyber Torres and Luke Voit.

Earlier in the week, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News spoke to scouts in the know about the Yankees’ biggest needs. Although shortstop is at the top of the list, they are unlikely to make a big splash at short with the likes of Carlos Correa.

“The Yankees didn’t spend last year. They were quiet before the lockout, and they have Aaron Judge in his final year of team control,” one American League scout told Ackert. “I don’t think it’s likely they are going to spend that money for Correa.”

With the Yankees’ Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza waiting in the wings and almost major league ready, it is unlikely they will spend big, instead of going the more popular route discussed recently, a stop-gap measure for just a few years.

That scout believes that the Yankees could engage with the Texas Rangers about their shortstop, Kiner-Falefa. The Yankees and Rangers have worked successfully recently in getting Rougned Odor and, most recently, Joey Gallo. It seems reasonable to assume that they can work with them again. The teams have two players they don’t need. The Rangers hired Corey Seager as their new shortstop, making Isiah Kiner-Falefa extra. The Yankees will likely hire an upgrade at first, leaving them no place to put Luke Voit.

The best first baseman in the business is the free agent Braves, Freddie Freeman. The Braves and Freeman could not agree to a $180 million contract. That amount also is not attractive to the Yankees, who already have Gerrit Cole, Giancarlo Stanton owed huge amounts over the next several years. Add to that, the Yankees will likely offer slugger Aaron Judge a huge extension keeping him in pinstripes and emptying the till. The best upgrade and cheapest way to go would be to hire Anthony Rizzo on a two to four-year deal in the area of $15 million a year. The Yankees would seem to have the upper hand in that negotiation as Rizzo has already said he wants to stay in New York.