A popular phrase on social media after the MLB labor dispute ended went something like this: Do the Yankees know the lockout is over? Cue the laugh track here.
It was fun for a few days, but it doesn’t apply anymore. Yes, baseball’s traditional masters of the “wow” deal had been all but dormant this offseason. But that changed on Sunday night with a blockbuster five-player trade with the Twins that shook up the roster.
The Yankees brought in a new left side of the infield, signaled “no” to anyone who fantasized about signing the mega shortstop carlos strapand, perhaps, offered some sum by subtraction by sending the beleaguered receiver gary sanchez to minnesota The Yankees traded Sánchez and the third baseman Gio Urshela for former MVP joseph donaldsonlisted as a third baseman, shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and receiver ben rotvedt.
After the deal, his defense should be better. Perhaps Donaldson’s ferocious intensity can help jump-start an offense that was a huge disappointment last year. And they will no longer carry Sanchez’s angst behind the plate, where his lack of defensive prowess was more tolerable before his slugging started to wane.
If Donaldson is healthy, he offers power and abilities on base. He hit 26 home runs and had an .827 OPS in 135 games for the Twins last year. However, there is a risk: he is 36 years old and injuries have dogged him in several of his last seasons.
An aside: it will be interesting to see how he and Gerrit Cabbage get along after Donaldson drew attention to Cole’s decreased spin rate following last season’s dispute over the use of goo by MLB pitchers. The most likely outcome is two guys with no hard feelings, all in the name of a championship chase. Imagine making them nice in public, complete with a made-for-Instagram handshake or a sibling hug. But if something persists, well, it gives us theater for a whole season, right?
The Yankees have always liked Kiner-Falefa as a potential stopgap at shortstop until their two shortstop prospects: antonio volpe and osvaldo peraza – they are ready. They watched, seemingly unperturbed, as star free agents like corey seager and marcus semien went elsewhere
The Rangers had traded Kiner-Falefa to the Twins on Saturday, seemingly closing off another potential path to replace Gleyber Torres in short (he is now the second baseman) of the Yankees. A day later, however, Kiner-Falefa, who turns 27 next week, is a Yankee. He’s a capable fielder: he won the 2020 Gold Glove at third base before transitioning to shortstop last year, where he earned good reviews via eye exam and metrics. Offensively, though, he’s no Correa: His career OPS is .670.
Rorvedt, a 24-year-old former second-round pick, hit .169 with three home runs in 39 games with the Twins last year. He is a left-handed hitter, so multiple reports Sunday night suggested he and the starting backup Kyle Higashioka, a righty, would be platoon behind home plate. Rorvedt is known for at least one Yankees staffer: receiving coordinator. tanner swanson he filled the same role with the Twins from 2018-19.
His offensive performance might not be up to the heights Sanchez could achieve. At one point, Sánchez was one of the brightest young sluggers in baseball. He smashed 20 home runs in just 53 games in 2016. A year later, he hit 33 home runs; two years after that, he shot 34.
But despite diligent work, his skills behind the plate never blossomed, aside from a powerful throwing arm. Higashioka became the regular catcher for Cole, the club’s $324 million ace.
In 2020, Sánchez hit just .147, and while he bounced back a bit in 2021, he still struggled beyond showing power at the plate. As he diminished his offense, the shortcomings on defense became even more apparent.
Questions constantly revolved around his condition. Everything has to be a lot. Perhaps Sánchez will do better with a change of scenery.
Although Urshela was a consistent contributor on offense and defense, the Yankees are probably better off with Donaldson, Kiner-Falefa and Rortvedt. I can’t say the Yankees haven’t done anything now, though to fully evaluate this deal, we also have to know what comes next.
Because they probably need to do more. They probably will. First base must be addressed. Could they look for help in center field too? A pitcher? They didn’t trade any major leaguers for Donaldson, et al, so a system with depth still offers options to move if they’re working on another blockbuster.
What if matt olsonthe left-handed A’s slugger at first base?