1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa
Perhaps the most polarizing Yankee of 2022, Isiah Kiner-Falefa is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility and is due $6.5 million. If he’s used as a utility player, he’s 100% worth it. If he’s mis-utilized as a full-time player anywhere on the diamond, it’s a colossal waste.
And, honestly … that’s a pretty expensive utility guy.
The Yankees will first and foremost explore the trade market here, because non-tendering IKF would represent another failure from the Donaldson-Sánchez-Urshela trade, which is something this prideful front office would be unwilling to swallow.
Then again, non-tendering these three players frees up $10 million and hardly affects the roster. The complaints about IKF in 2022 were valid, but were also a direct result of the front office/Aaron Boone putting the 28-year-old in an impossible situation.
The other reason for an outright non-tender for IKF is, if the Yankees opt to move forward with Josh Donaldson as their starting third baseman, they have DJ LeMahieu as the multi-faceted infielder who can play first, second and third. With Oswald Peraza and Oswaldo Carbera (and hopefully Anthony Volpe) in line to make the Opening Day roster, the Yankees would have multiple shortstops, rendering IKF useless.
Plus, DJ costs $15 million per year and isn’t going anywhere. You’re really going to pay ~$22 million for two utility players, one of whom clearly didn’t make the desired impact? You’re stuck with one. You’re not stuck with the other.
If IKF can’t be traded before Nov. 18, he should be non-tendered, because the Yankees need to stop waiting around for every last thing to transpire in the exact manner they desire.