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Breaking News: Yankees Trade Gary & Gio for IKF & Donaldson

After a long pause in action from the Yankees (aside from a few minor signings), the Yankees have made a legitimate move.

The Minnesota Twins just recently acquired INF Isiah Kiner-Falefa and have now packaged him with 3B Josh Donaldson in a move for C Gary Sanchez and 3B Gio Urshela.

Update: It’s official.

Details and Thoughts Inside:

 

Tweets:

The New York Yankees today announced that they have acquired INF Josh Donaldson, INF Isiah Kiner-Falefa and C Ben Rortvedt from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for C Gary Sánchez and INF Gio Urshela. — New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 14, 2022

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BREAKING: The New York Yankees are finalizing a deal to acquire third baseman Josh Donaldson and shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa from Minnesota, sources tell ESPN. — Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 14, 2022

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#Yankees are taking on all of the $50M that Donaldson is owed. — Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) March 14, 2022

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Donaldson owed $21M each of next two seasons. Kiner-Falefa projected to earn about $5M in arbitration, with another year of control remaining. Sánchez projected at $7.9M in final season before free agency, Urshela at $6.55M with another year of control left. @MLBTradeRumors — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 14, 2022

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Thoughts:

Of course the Yankees decide to make a move right as everyone is starting to, if not has already, gone to bed. Jeez. I’m exhausted already from a long weekend of skiing, so pardon my thoughts tonight as I’m just going to let this become a stream of consciousness.

On Gary Sanchez/Catchers:

It was time for him to go. I always wanted him to succeed in New York and while improvements to his defense have been made in recent years, it was clear that he was holding back the Yankees on at least one side of the ball. With an offense that has been either red-hot for 2 weeks or ice-cold for 4 to 6 weeks at a time, it’s a smart move to move on. The Yankees need more consistency. HOWEVER…

I am the world’s biggest Kyle Higashioka fan. Always have been, always will be. As of now it looks like he’s going to become the full-time starting catcher. A defensive plus behind the plate, he will occasionally take a pitch deep on offense. Is he ready for the starting role? I sure hope so.

I have no thoughts on Ben Rortvedt. Though, it should be noted that Yankees catching coach Tanner Swanson was previously with the Twins and worked with him. (Thanks, Ken Rosenthal for this information.)

(In retrospect, this also makes the Yankees non-move on J.T. Stallings from the Pirates even worse. He cost the Miami Marlins essentially nothing in terms of prospects and would’ve been a huge and obvious decision.)

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On the Infield/Urshela/Donaldson/IKF:

Well, here is the meat and potatoes of this trade so lets slowly go piece by piece.

Gio Urshela was a fine Yankee. He’ll be remembered for more than he was because he made flashy plays and had some big hits. I very much enjoyed him in pinstripes, but before he broke out in 2019 he was a middling journeyman. When Donaldson has a poor stretch, it’s more than obvious Yankees fans will be clamoring for “Giodude” to come back. The Yankees got the best from a player who had nothing else to lose. I wish him all the best going forward.

Josh Donaldson is an excellent hitter, he has experience in the AL East, he’s on a short-term deal, and he was a negative trade asset for the Twins. Personally, I figured he would be a great addition for the Yankees because of this if they were willing to spend the money to field a good-to-great team. I know he’s hated by many baseball fans, but I could care less about his personality. He is going to be a great hitter for the Yankees. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Donaldson also allowed the Yankees to get a big up-and-coming name in Isiah Kiner-Falefa. He’s going to make Yankees fans forget about what Gio Urshela was on defense and will provide enough offense going forward that he’ll continue to be a valuable asset on the team. The Yankees desperately needed to get better at shortstop and IKF is a big upgrade.

There is a problem, sort of, in that Donaldson and IKF are both right-handed hitters, though the spots and players they are replacing were also all right-handed hitters (Donaldson-Urshela, IKF-Torres, Higgy-Sanchez), so while an upgrade with a left-handed bat would’ve been nice, this is a wash on paper.

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Overall Feelings:

I think this move makes the Yankees better. The combination of Donaldson’s great offense and IKF’s great shortstop defense alone will play much better for the Yankees than Urshela and Torres were doing overall for the Yankees in recent years. Add in good defense from Donaldson and average hitting from IKF and this is an upgrade.

 
To our homegrown baby bomber, we will miss your moonshots and cannon behind the plate. Thank you for everything, Gary 💙 pic.twitter.com/MTVz4lhsDw — New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 14, 2022

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For your wizardry in the hot corner, energy, & smile… Thank you, Gio 💙 pic.twitter.com/XIeLjoQOpe — New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 14, 2022

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