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  • Ethan Semendinger

Should They Stay or Go? (INF 1 of 2)

The Yankees have a lot of decisions to make this offseason, one could say there's bound to a "clash" of opinions. Let's talk about it.

 

Today I will be discussing some of the Yankees infielders


Anthony Rizzo

2022 Statistics: 130 Games, .224/.338/.480/.817 (131 OPS+), 104 Hits, 32 Home Runs, 75 RBI's, 58 BB's, 101 K's, -3 DRS, -10.9 Def, +2.3 bWAR/+2.4 fWAR

Contract Status: Has a 2023 player option for 1-Year/$16 Million; Likely to opt out

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Anthony Rizzo was the 2nd best player on the New York Yankees from this past year. When you combine his playing in 80% of the teams games (around spending just 2 weeks on the IL), his solid offensive numbers, and his great defensive abilities at first base. Rizzo first became a Yankee at the 2021 trade deadline when the team finally acknowledged a desperate need for a left-handed bat and he quickly became a fan favorite. Myself included. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a Yankees fan who didn't instantly place Rizzo on/near the top of their personal current Yankees lists.


That being said- and this is where I get labeled as a pessimist- Rizzo isn't perfect. He's dealt with back injuries for each of the last few seasons and that will only get worse playing at first base. Think of how often he needed to bend and stretch to get to a errant throw. Rizzo also just posted a .224 batting average. Since his age-30 season he has a .234 batting average (his career to that point was at .273). Maybe that's because of the Yankees hitting philosophy (which we have seen doesn't work), but having a drop in average that severe is telling. It's not good.


Now, Rizzo hit 32 home runs. Even with a low average, he was still much better than the league average. During the postseason, he was a batter I trusted to fight and work a pitcher and adopt his hitting to what the Yankees needed. He got hits when it mattered.


Rizzo is a very valuable baseball player. The Yankees knew 2022 was their last shot with the current core to do anything great. It's why they gave Rizzo a 2-year deal with an opt out. They saw the writing on the wall. They set themselves up to lose him, and they will. All reports and everything (especially with a weak free agent class) points towards Rizzo exercising his player option and opting out of his contract for 2023.


The Verdict: Up until the point that Anthony Rizzo signs a new contract, I will continue to consider what could happen with him. As I don't want to spoil the many ideas in my head about where he could end up, I'll leave you all with this: I don't expect him to return to the Yankees. Especially if they lose Aaron Judge. Players talk, players know who is good and who is bad. Players know what teams will be competitive. There are better options for Rizzo out there than New York for next year and for the next few after then. Like I said, I have many ideas ready for when he officially opts out on where he may go.

 

Josh Donaldson

2022 Statistics: 132 Games, .222/.308/.374/.682 (94 OPS+), 106 Hits, 15 Home Runs, 62 RBI's, 148 K's, +8 DRS, +4.5 Def, +2.4 bWAR/+1.6 fWAR

Contract Status: Has 1-Year/$21,750,000 on his contract with a 2024 Club Option at $16M (with an $8M buyout)

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Josh Donaldson was the biggest disappointment on the New York Yankees from this past season. We won't even go to discuss the many allegations about how his personality works (or doesn't) work in a clubhouse, nor are we going to dive deeper into the Tim Anderson incident. We don't need to. Donaldson as a disappointment far exceeded those things.


The Yankees brought Josh Donaldson in as a former MVP who was going to help carry the middle of the lineup with a powerful bat. They brought him in to fix the defensive miscues of Gio Urshela (which, to be fair, he did do) and provide the Yankees a top player at the hot corner. Instead of that the Yankees got back a player who couldn't hit a fastball down the middle of the plate in the postseason. His value is completely gone. He's a shell of his former self and the Minnesota Twins must be laughing their ways to the bank after saving the near $50 Million the Yankees will have had to give to Donaldson from 2022-2024. We can only hope the Yankees exercise the buyout, even at the cost of $8 Million in wasted funds.


Donaldson hit 15 home runs this past season. So did Matt Carpenter...in 47 games.


The Verdict: At whatever cost it may have to be for the Yankees to get rid of Josh Donaldson, they should exercise that option. He is not a player who should last on the Yankees in 2023. Package prospects (though not Volpe, Peraza, or Dominguez) if they must need to. Please, get rid of JD.

 

Isiah Kiner-Falefa

2022 Statistics: 142 Games, .261/.314/.327/.642 (84 OPS+), 126 Hits, 4 Home Runs, 48 RBI's, 72 K's, +20 DRS, +3.6 Def, +2.9 bWAR/+1.3 fWAR

Contract Status: Heading into Arbitration 3; Under Contract through 2024

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Truthfully, I feel bad for IKF. When the Yankees made a trade to take on an albatross contract it was to get him to be a solid infielder...while also moving him from the position he just got a gold glove at. Shortstop and third base are incredibly different positions to play and it was clear that IKF was not going to be a great shortstop like he was a gold glove third baseman. IKF was also acquired- as it was told to Yankees fans- as a stopgap shortstop. It can't be fun getting told that the plan is for you to go away soon.


Now, that's not to excuse IKF. The Yankees, and Aaron Boone, have already done that enough. He was a average defender and shortstop. He made a lot of costly mistakes-especially in the playoffs- that cost the Yankees severely. He wasn't a great hitter (though, to be fair the Yankees bought high on his hitting) and he didn't really seem to have much of an outward personality for the team. I don't mean that in a negative light. Not everybody has to be the super outgoing player. However, it felt like IKF was more of an enigma than anything else.


I feel bad for him. He's been given an impossible task. The Yankees wanted him to be good enough to prevent the future of Yankees shortstops from coming up to the major leagues so that when they didn't bring them up they had a reason. And then when they started to pull him from starting to the bench and back to the lineup...IN THE PLAYOFFS...it is hard for me to hate on IKF. The front office messed with him too much. It's just annoying that this isn't an isolate incident with the Yankees in recent years.


The Verdict: IKF will stick with the Yankees through the offseason. If it was up to me, I'd have him as the starting third baseman to start the 2023 season and allow him to take over for Josh Donaldson. However, I'd also let him know that once the next wave of players comes up- be it Anthony Volpe or Trey Sweeney or whomever- he is going to become the super utility back-up player for third base, second base, and the emergency catcher. Honesty pays off. Give IKF the truth.



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