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2022 Shortstop Targets? – Other Targets

At the beginning of the offseason, Brian Cashman said the Yankees were not going to go into the 2022 with Gleyber Torres at shortstop. With a tremendous crop of free agent talent available, the Yankees missed out on Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Javier Baez.

This week we’ll look at a few free agents and trade targets to fill the role.

Today we look at the case for a couple other potential options around the MLB.

 

Isiah Kiner-Falefa:

In a question about potential stop-gap shortstops for the Yankees in 2021 that was submitted to Andy Singer as part of his weekly “Friday Mailbag” (check it out if you haven’t already), Andy pointed to the converted catcher-to-infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa from the Texas Rangers as a top-tier candidate for the Yankees. And this is for good reason, IKF would help the Yankees in more than just one way and he seems to be an obvious trade target to be moved away from Texas after they signed both Corey Seager and Marcus Semien to shore up the middle of the infield on long-term and expensive deals.

The positives are that IKF provided +3.7 bWAR/+2.3 fWAR of value in 2021, coming from his emergence as one of the games best defenders. He produced to a +8.1 DEF, +10 DRS, and a +1.2 UZR while at shortstop last season. This is also coming off a year where he transitioned to shortstop after taking home the AL Gold Glove at Third Base in 2020. Other positives are that Kiner-Falefa is also going to be a cheap monetary contract with his Arbitration 2 projection at just $5 Million for 2021 and a likely Arbitration 3 projection at around $10 Million for 2022. This two years of control fits perfectly for the Yankees needing a stopgap. Additionally, his versatility as somebody who can move all around the infield is a huge positive. Finally, IKF is entering into his age-27 season.

However, the story isn’t perfect for IKF. He is the exact opposite of the prototypical Yankees hitter as he put up a triple-slash of .271/.312/.357 (.670 OPS/85 OPS+) with 172 hits and just 8 home runs. While I like to bash on the Yankees hitting philosophy that seems to boil down to “hit ball hard”, it’s clear that offensive potential is not something to hope for from IKF. Additionally, I’m not sold on the Texas Rangers wanting to move away from IKF, who due to his versatility can still fit in the infield with Seager and Semien at shortstop and second base respectively. IKF works for them as a perfect stopgap third baseman as they wait for Josh Jung (a consensus Top-50 Prospect) to force his way onto the MLB roster in 2022. It also works that IKF could then fit the utility role (a la DJ LeMahieu) for the Rangers going forward after Jung makes the MLB.

It’s clear that the Rangers consider themselves a growing threat in their division and unless the Yankees were willing to spend big to get Isiah Kiner-Falefa, I just can’t see a legitimate move being made for him. He’d be great for the Yankees, but there isn’t a future there.

 

Nick Ahmed:

Nick Ahmed is a name that has popped up recently across the internet as a potential target for the Yankees (Andy Singer also wrote about him yesterday too). However, there is one reason for this: he’s a net negative trade asset, but I’ll try to find a positive spin for him.

The nice thing about Ahmed is that (outside of a 25 game stint in 2014) he has always been a positive defender at the MLB level. He has won 2 gold gloves at shortstop in the National League (2018 and 2019), and his numbers in 2021 were good yet again: +5.5 DEF, +4 DRS, +0.2 UZR. Additionally, Ahmed has a favorable contract remaining (2-Years/$17.5 Million) from the 4-Year/$32.5 Million that he signed before the 2020 season. He’d be a little more expensive in contract size than a player like Rosario or IKF, but he would also come a lot cheaper in terms of prospects (he has a -11 MTV from BaseballTradeValues.com).

However, if you’re worried about offense then don’t look to Ahmed. His good defense helped him salvage a season with a +0.8 bWAR/0.0 fWAR in 2021 which was cratered by his .221/.280/.339 (.619 OPS/67 OPS+) triple-slash. This came with just 96 hits and 5 home runs over 129 games last season as well. That’s not pretty.

Could Ahmed be serviceable? Yes. But this is not a move that the New York Yankees should be making. 67% of his value came between 2018 and 2019, which was a few years and juiced ball in the past. If getting Ahmed is the move the Yankees make, that’s more than just a small signal. Ultimately, it means that they’re being cheap yet again.

 

Tyler Wade:

Nobody. Nobody is making this case. But, I will die on his hill if I have to. Letting Tyler Wade go to the Los Angeles Angels for nothing (technically a player to be named later) is the Yankees biggest mistake this offseason. The Yankees had a player, under control, for cheap, who was a natural shortstop on their team and they let him go for next to nothing.

Tyler Wade had a much better season in 2021 than the numbers would lead you to believe. He had his best offensive season to date, his best defensive season to date, and has something else the Yankees don’t have enough of: speed! (Of all the shortstops I’ve talked about this week, Tyler Wade is the 2nd fastest behind…Amed Rosario.) All of this came with consistent playing time for Tyler Wade. Keep in mind, he was a Top Yankees prospect for a number of years. He is much more than an end-of-the-bench guy and he was proving it last season. Think about this as well: Tyler Wade is going to be making, as projected, just $700,000 in 2022. Talk about cheap!

The Yankees flubbed this one. I hope Tyler Wade dominates the AL West with Trout and Ohtani.

The need for a stopgap is obvious, but if they had Tyler Wade that need would be much better dealt with. Is he the perfect solution? Probably not. Is he a solution that would work just fine to start the 2022 season? 100% yes.

(Please come back Tyler!)

 

Gleyber Torres:

Do you believe everything that Brian Cashman says? If so, then you’d know that Gleyber Torres is not going to be the Yankees starting shortstop for the 2022 season. If not, then there is a chance that Gleyber Torres will be the Yankees starting shortstop for the 2022 season.

The obvious reasons for this happening are there. Gleyber Torres came up as a shortstop prospect. He’s put in over 2,000 innings at the position at the MLB level. He was at one point a Top-5 prospect (as a shortstop) in the MLB. He’s not going anywhere (via trade). They already have DJ LeMahieu at second base, so Gleyber Torres needs a firm infield position. He was looking better at the end of 2021. His defense was throwing off his offense. His offense was throwing off his defense. Yadda yadda yadda.

You know the points for and against Gleyber Torres as much as I do. You know that this is the cheapest and easiest option for the Yankees. It’s also their most aggravating because you know as well as I that Gleyber Torres, for whatever reason, is not an MLB caliber shortstop. He’s best suited at second base.

I’m a big Gleyber fan. I hope he regains the great offensive prowess that he showed in 2018 and 2019. I hope he regains his confidence in his game. But, please, do not put him back at shortstop!

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