Oh, Brian Cashman’s asleep, is he? Oh, the New York Yankees don’t have a plan in place, are going to whiff on Carlos Correa and Freddie Freeman, and are going to be entering 2022 with the same roster that failed to delivered these past few years, aren’t they?
Guess again. And, judging by the return package to New York’s first real transaction of the 2021-22 offseason, they aren’t nearly done — and have, in fact, created another hole.
The Yankees flipped the metaphorical table in the middle of their lineup on Sunday night, acquiring one of Gerrit Cole’s sworn enemies while clearing out a logjam at third and the depth chart behind the plate, linking up with the Minnesota Twins to craft a mega-deal of confounding proportions.
Staring down the barrel of his final season in pinstripes, the Yanks will give Gary Sánchez a chance to find the magic he lost somewhere between 2017 and 2018 in Minnesota, and Gio Urshela will be joining him on the 2022 Twins, another asset whose next contract wasn’t in the Bronx (and who regressed significantly last season).
Coming New York’s way? Josh Donaldson at third base, Isiah Kiner-Falefa (acquired on Saturday from Texas!) to fill a gap at short, and young catcher Ben Rortvedt, who is almost assuredly not the team’s starter in place of Sánchez.
You want to get wild? Let’s get wild.
Yankees trade Gary Sánchez, Gio Urshela for Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa
You can certainly do worse than IKF as your theoretical stopgap shortstop — in fact, we’re not sure you could do better, in this current market. The bat may be light, but he does the little things and is a Gold Glove-level defender. Missing out on his services on Saturday wasn’t as much of a blessing as losing Andrelton Simmons to Chicago.
But, oh, yeah, you can call it a day on Correa, as if the myriad reports from every single plugged-in insider saying he wasn’t even on the Yankees’ radar wasn’t enough of a reason to do so.
As for Donaldson? The Bringer of Rain is 36 years old, has battled injury issues and wraps up a four-year, $92 million contract after 2023 … but he can still mash, posting a 127 OPS+ with 26 bombs in 135 games in 2021, following a 126 OPS+/borderline MVP campaign in 2019 with the Braves at his last stop.
In other words, his power transcends the juiced ball, something you couldn’t say for last year’s Yankees offense.
Urshela was an excellent redemption story in 2019 and we’ll never forget the way he put his body on the line in Game 162 of the 2021 season, but Sánchez is the true, storied departure here. For all his half-efforts behind the plate and all his swings over sliders in the dirt, even the worst version of Sánchez was among the best-hitting catchers in the game, both an indictment of the position and a reality.
We’re not sure what the Yankees have lined up to replace him, but 120 games of Kyle Higashioka would be a significant downgrade … unless Donaldson wants to strap on the tools of ignorance again like in his old prospect days?