Perspectives: HOLY COW! The Yankees Are Dealing.
THE BIG TRADES
by Paul Semendinger
March 14, 2022
I woke up to see that my inbox was bursting with e-mails.
THE YANKEES ARE DEALING!
It’s way early in the morning, but it’s time for me to unpack the trade I just woke up to learn about.
Third Base – Who is better, Josh Donaldson or Gio Urshela? I think this has a clear and easy answer. It’s Donaldson. The Yankees just upgraded. Good. Great! Yes! I like upgrades.
There were reports yesterday that Aaron Boone said that Gio Urshela would be the Yankees’ shortstop this year. I just couldn’t believe that was true. It was almost so absurd that it signaled that Urshela was gone. It’s like the old, “He will be the manager all season” comments, the day before the guy gets fired.
I am thrilled that Urshela will not be the shortstop and am even pleased that he won’t be at third base. Brian Cashman does a great job finding talent and capturing, for a brief time, magic in a bottle. Gio Urshela was that type of player. He came to the Yankees as a relative unknown and he was great. Then, he came back to earth. In a way, Aaron Hicks has been a player of that mold. Luke Voit too. There have been many others. The key is to capture the magic with these types of players and then move on. One thing that has hurt the Yankees in recent years is that they kept the players after the magic left, sometimes even extending them.
John Donaldson is on the wrong side of 35-years-old (he’s 36), but he’s still a top of the line slugger and I believe his defense will be adequate at third. I actually don’t see him being much of a downgrade from Urshela defensively. Donaldson is the player the Yankees would hope that Urshela would be in 2022. Now they don’t have to hope. This is a clear upgrade.
Donaldson isn’t young, but he is also only signed through next year (with a team option for 2024). So, the Yankees acquired a superior player but not one with a long-term commitment. That’s great.
Also, when teams like the Yankees, a team on the bubble, who could be great, but might not be, acquire players like Josh Donaldson, it says, very loudly, WE ARE GOING FOR IT NOW. Those are words I love hearing. I believe this is the first big move and that the Yankees are signaling that they are all in.
As for the Donaldson vs Gerrit Cole feud… I am sure there will be lots written about that, but to me it’s all noise and all about nothing. I’ll bet they go right up to each other today and embrace with a hug. They have the same mission – to win. They don’t have to be friends. They just have to play great baseball. (And, I think they will.)
The Yankees also now have their shortstop in Isiah Kiner-Falefa. This guy is a superior defensive player. The Yankees need great defense. Josh Donaldson isn’t what he once was at third (but he’s steady enough), but Kiner-Falefa should more than make up for that by playing a great defensive shortstop. This is a huge upgrade for a team that didn’t have any idea what was happening at short. Defense at shortstop wins games. Absolutely. Period. The Yankees now have that.
The Yankees just bought themselves some time, as well, for Anthony Volpe and/or Oswald Peraza to develop at shortstop. Neither of those players have to be rushed now. Kiner-Falefa will only be 27-years-old (his birthday is next week) this season. He is actually entering his prime. This was a great player to acquire.
Kiner-Falefa doesn’t hit a ton, but he should bat around .270 and I don’t think 10 home runs (maybe even a little more) is out of the question. Bat him ninth, let him anchor the infield defense, and away we go!
Kiner-Falefa also gives the Yankees some great maneuverability. He can also play third at a Gold Glove level. If he becomes a slightly better hitter, the Yankees could be set at shortstop for many seasons. This would make one of Volpe or Peraza expendable in a follow-up trade. I believe this also makes Gleyber Torres a very likely trade candidate.
With Donaldson and Kiner-Falefa aboard, D.J. LeMahieu can concentrate on just being a second baseman. That is where he belongs. The Yankees want him to be a utility guy, but he never was that before coming to New York. He should play second, his strength. He can now do that. (Or, Gleyber Torres can, and LeMahieu could be traded. Get ready for a wild ride, the ramifications of this trade aren’t over yet.)
And Gary. Dear Gary. Oh, Gary! Gary Sanchez is a player with a ton of potential, still, but his days in New York were long over. He’s just the next in a long line of players that fans hoped would be great, who burst on the scene with such glory, but who could never sustain it. It was time for him to get a new home. I wish him well. I hope he does tremendously. I just don’t think he will, at least long term. I can see a 30-homer season in 2022 or 2023, but I also don’t think that would have happened in New York where the Yankees and their fans were tired of his inconsistent defense and his (extremely) low batting average.
The Yankees now need a catcher. They still need a first baseman. It would be nice to get a center fielder. And another starting pitcher. This trade doesn’t look like the end, it looks like the start.
I think you might see any of Joey Gallo, D.J. LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, Aaron Hicks, and/or Luke Voit moved this week as they Yankees finish their master plan. For me, I’m very satisfied with the following as my starters for 2022:
2B- LeMahieu or Torres
To me that seems like a great start. Add the likes of Freddie Freeman or Matt Olson at first base and this team is really rolling…
I think we’ll see a Brett Gardner reunion this week as well. I’m fine with that as the 4th outfielder. If Aaron Hicks could just stay healthy, I’m also not opposed to him being the centerfielder and the #8 batter in the lineup. He shouldn’t bat higher. But, still, I’d like an upgrade if possible. I just don’t trust that Aaron Hicks won’t get injured.
THE YANKEES ARE DEALING. IT LOOKS LIKE THEY ARE ALL-IN. This is what I love. This is fun. And I think the fun is just beginning.
Let’s Go Yankees!