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Yankees acquire Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Ben Rortvedt from twins for Gary Sanchez, Gio Urshela

The Bronx Bombers’ quiet offseason came to an abrupt end, as the Yankees and Twins combined on a blockbuster five-man contract. Josh Donaldsoninfielder Isiah Kiner-Falefaand receiver Ben Rortvedt all head to the Yankees, while the Twins will pick up the receiver Gary Sanchez and infielder Gio UrshelaThe $50 million still owed on Donaldson’s contract is fully absorbed by the Yankees, according to’s Mark Feinsand.

Donaldson has a five-team no-trade clause, although it’s unclear if the Yankees were one of the five clubs on his roster, or if he waived his clause to travel to New York. bonus due to trade, and being moved, the $16 million club option on Donaldson for 2024 now becomes a mutual option with a $6 million buyout, rather than an $8 million buyout.

This mammoth deal upends both clubs’ rosters and ends Kiner-Falefa’s tenure in Minnesota after just one day. The Twins only acquired Kiner-Falefa from Rangers for Mitch Garver on Saturday, but now the former Gold Glover has been ousted in a much larger deal that sees the Twins take a significant salary off their books. use Sanchez behind the plate.

After a winter of speculation over how the Yankees would approach their infield, the Bronx Bombers have now installed Donaldson as their new daily third baseman and Kiner-Falefa as their new shortstop (New York was tied to the IKF earlier this winter, so the team finally landed it even after its brief stopover in Minnesota.) DJ LeMahieu can float between first and second base, sharing time with Gleyber Torres at the keystone and Luke Sees The DH point is also a possibility to give sticks to players, depending on the time spent in the field Giancarlo Stanton can handle.

All that to be said, we certainly can’t rule out the Yankees taking another big dive, since the team has been linked to both Freddie Freeman and Matt Olson If either of those players are obtained, Voit would certainly look like an immediate trade candidate, and even dealing LeMahieu or Torres could be a possibility depending on the direction the Yankees want to go.

Donaldson is no stranger to the AL East, having had some of his best years (including his 2015 MVP season) playing with the Blue Jays from 2015-2018. waned since those years in Toronto, as injury concerns have cropped up as Donaldson has deepened into his 30s, Donaldson is still a dangerous bat. continued to post his usual hard contact and elite-level walking rates.

Defensive moves are mixed on Donaldson’s third base glove work, but New York hopes Kiner-Falefa can take over all of the defensive slack on the left side of the infield. Kiner-Falefa has also been impressive on 1,498 shortstop career innings in Defensive Runs Saved (+14) and UZR/150 (+1.7) metrics, though the Outs Above Average (-7) metric was very down on his shortstop. the glove-making in 2021. The Fielding Bible ranked Kiner-Falefa third among all shortstops in their vote for the 2021 season.

Kiner-Falefa is checked for two more officiating seasons, essentially making him a bridge to what the Yankees hope will be their shortstop of the future. All winter, New York would have held off the hunt at the highest level from the free shortstop agent market due to the team’s faith in star prospects Antoine Volpe and Oswald PerazaWith Peraza possibly approaching his MLB debut as soon as this season and Volpe possibly coming by 2023, the Yankees wanted to retain flexibility at shortstop rather than lock themselves into a ten-year commitment to a Carlos Correa or one Corey Seager.

Rortvedt is the least famous of the five names involved in the trade, and he only hit .169/.229/.281 in his first 98 APs at the majors, all with Minnesota last season. he’s not expected to be another Sanchez at the plate, as the Yankees appear to be intent on Rortvedt in a squad with Kyle Higashioka Considering all the other personalities in the New York roster, focusing on glove work behind home plate seems like a fair trade-off, especially since Sanchez’s defense has been a point of contention among fans for years. of the Yankees. It’s not out of the question that the aggressive Yankees could make another move to add a more proven veteran to the contagious mix.

As for payroll, the Yankees take Donaldson’s $50 million, Kiner-Falefa’s projected $4.9 million in 2022 salary, and Rortvedt’s minimum wage. Urshela’s $6.55 million salary for 2022 and Sanchez’s projected $7.9 million salary come off the books, leaving the Bombers with a luxury tax count of around $242.7 million. dollars (according to Roster Resource). That’s well above the new $230 million tax threshold, but below the “second tier” of $250 million, which would result in a stiffer financial penalty for the Yankees. to stoop below the luxury tax line in 2021 and thereby reset its clock, so the Yankees would only have to pay a 20% first-time penalty on the overage for every dollar spent between 230 million of dollars and 250 million dollars.

The savings are much bigger for the Twins, who are taking Donaldson off their books and have now freed up longer-term payroll space. According to SKOR North’s Darren Wolfson (Twitter link), the Twins did not pick up Kiner-Falefa with the intention of immediately moving him again, but the club was ultimately swayed by the Yankees’ offer to take Donaldson’s entire contract.

That’s not to say Minnesota is necessarily looking to tear down the roster, as much of Donaldson’s salary space in 2022 has now been filled by Sanchez, Urshela and even Sonny GrayAfter spending just under $100 million on payrolls in 2021, the Twins currently have around $94.2 million on the books for 2022, giving them more room for further moves if they do. even approach their 125 to 131 dollars. Full season MM payroll for the 2018-19 seasons.

Owner Jim Pohlad said last summer the Twins wouldn’t rebuild, and while it looks like the Twins are still firmly planning to fight in 2022, they’ve created more maneuverability for themselves by landing Sanchez (one year left before free agency) and Urshela (two years in control). If things were to turn south for the Twins in 2022 as they did in 2021, then the team might be able to pivot more cleanly towards moving players at the trade deadline, and perhaps at that time consider a reconstruction on a larger scale.

Not too long ago, Sanchez was seen as key to the Yankees’ future, bursting with huge power numbers that seemed to put him next in the Bronx’s long line of big catchers. — lackluster numbers in three of the past four years, leading to speculation last fall that Sanchez might even be a no-bid candidate. chip in this major exchange.

Between his defensive issues and his evolution into a three-true-result type of player, it remains to be seen if Sanchez can find a fresh start in Minneapolis. He wouldn’t be the first player to flourish outside of the new pressure cooker. yorkers. (his new teammate Gray is a prime example), and Sanchez still provides strong power and base numbers. Sanchez still makes a lot of hard contact, but just making that contact has been a persistent problem, as Sanchez has been one of the game’s most strikeout-prone hitters for five consecutive seasons.

Assuming the Twins do indeed plan to keep Sanchez, he will partner with Ryan Jeffers (a more defensive receiver) replacing Garver Elsewhere in the infield, a situation that seemed settled with the addition of Kiner-Falefa is now thrown up in the air once again.

Although Urshela has some experience as a shortstop, it seems much more likely that he will take Donaldson’s place at third base, as the hot corner is Urshela’s usual position and he has proven himself to be a very solid defender. nowhere to post huge numbers for the Yankees in 2019 and 2020, quickly becoming a regular on the pitch amid several injuries on New York’s roster during the 2019 campaign.

However, Urshela faced health issues himself last season, running out of time amid a COVID-19 outbreak in the New York clubhouse and then straining his left hamstring. That could explain Urshela’s drop to a modest .267/.301/.419 line slash and 14 homers in 442 AP, while his walk and strikeout rates have dropped from their 2020 levels.

The Twins are obviously relying on rebounds from their two newest players, and there are clear upsides to the club’s plan. If Sanchez and Urshela get back to their 2019 form, it will more than make up for losing Donaldson’s bat. The scope of this deal would seem to hint that at least one notable follow-up move will come, as the Twins once again have to fill a shortstop void that Kiner-Falefa had seemingly filled. Jorge Polanco could return to shortstop in a pinch, but the Twins prefer him as a second baseman going forward.

Since Urshela can at least handle the part-time shortstop, the Twins could also opt to land another third baseman, allowing for a timeshare Urshela/Polanco at shortstop and a Polanco/Luis Arraez split at second base. Daniel Robertson and Tim Beckham are also in camp on minor league deals for other on-field options and on-field perspective Jose MirandaThe big 2021 season has him poised to make his MLB debut.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link) was the first to report Donaldson and Kiner-Falefa being dealt to the Yankees, while MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that Sanchez and Urshela were heading to Minnesota. Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter) signaled Rortvedt’s inclusion in the trade.

Photo courtesy of Sports Pictures USA Today


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