The Yankees are reportedly shopping Gleyber Torres to clear their infield logjam, and there’s one opportunity that’s flying right under the radar.
What if general manager Brian Cashman used trading Torres as a vehicle for also moving Isiah Kiner-Falefa? Maybe offer two infielders for the price of one prospect as opposed to two?
Granted, this is all speculation. Kiner-Falefa is under contract for $6 million in 2023 and is one of Cashman’s analytics darlings. Forget his lightweight bat and polarizing defense. His -9 career outs above average (OAA) and weak arm were trumped by his +24 defensive runs saved (DRS).
Except now, the Yankees have more infielders than they know what to do with. DJ LeMahieu appears healthy again and can play several positions along with Oswaldo Cabrera. Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza are also knocking on the door. Throw in Torres having a more than capable bat in the interim and IKF is suddenly the odd man out.
Granted, even Kiner-Falefa has his strong points. He doesn’t draw a ton of walks, but he doesn’t strike out much either. His defense at shortstop may be suspect, but he’s a Gold Glove third baseman who can play second in an emergency. As in, packaging him with the second baseman Torres doesn’t automatically tie him to shortstop. Kiner-Falefa also has respectable speed, with 42 stolen bases to his name in the last two years.
And who’s to say Kiner-Falefa has to start on any potential new team? Not even a $6 million price tag guarantees him a start on Opening Day in New York, not without a heavy-hitting spring training. And even then, he’s probably looking at reserve utility infielder work.
It’s not like Kiner-Falefa is completely untradeable like Aaron Hicks or Josh Donaldson either. Surely, the Yankees aren’t the only team ready to hide behind analytics to defend him. The Twins easily could have done the same if they kept him in their initial trade with the Rangers. In all likelihood, so will Kiner-Falefa’s next team.
The fact of the matter is right now, shortstop looks Volpe and/or Peraza’s to lose. Cabrera’s switch-hitting, smooth glove, and more reliable bat make him the better utility infielder to keep. That leaves IKF expendable with a contract that’s pricey, but not astronomical by any means.
The process is simple enough to package him in any potential Torres trade. Cashman just has to call Torres’ interested suitors and ask if they’d also like Kiner-Falefa. Who knows? Maybe one team’s analytics department thinks they can unlock something with his bat.
It’s not a matter of if Kiner-Falefa gets traded from the Yankees at this point, but when. Packaging him with Torres seems the simplest solution.
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