Twins trading Gio Urshela shows how Yankees spiraled his career


Whether owner Hal Steinbrenner or general manager Brian Cashman think so or not, the Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela for Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa trade with the Minnesota Twins last year was undoubtedly one of the worst in modern franchise history.

There are plenty of reasons why. First of all, Donaldson was due to make $50 million over two years. That’s a $25 million AAV. The Yankees could’ve had countless marquee free agents for that price or slightly above in the years leading up to that offseason AND that offseason.

Secondly, they brought in IKF as their stopgap starting shortstop when he’s a utility player by trade. They trusted him up until their season was on the line, and the experiment blew up in their face multiple times over.

Thirdly … the Yankees never had to do this trade if they were just willing to swallow their pride and non-tender Sánchez last year, which would’ve saved them ~$9 million and not upended their roster for the worse.

And lastly … Urshela was a cost-effective all-around player who put his body on the line for this team and brought an aggressive contact bat to the bottom of the lineup — something they lacked for a long time. How has his career now been characterized by two trades in two years? He’s a well above-average major league player!

The Yankees upended Gio Urshela’s career for absolutely no reason

Urshela is projected to earn a shade above $9 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility. He earned $6.5 million in 2022. He’s been good for a 9.5 WAR since 2019 after his 3.1 showing with the Twins this past season.

For comparison, Donaldson’s been worth an 11.5 WAR over that same span … getting paid almost $72 million. Urshela’s made barely $14 million. Yes, there’s a considerable difference in the power numbers, but that’s not what this is about. The Yankees didn’t need more power. They didn’t need an aging player at a ridiculous cost. They didn’t need a pseudo-shortstop.

A versatile defender, contact bat and GOOD TEAMMATE was all that was necessary. And it was working just fine up until he had to battle a few injuries. Now he’ll likely head to the Angels to waste away, never to be seen or heard from again, much like what happened in 2022 when he was among the most productive all-around third basemen in baseball with the Twins.

It’s unclear why the Twins traded him (probably because they’re not the best organization in the sport). But it’s even more unclear why the Yankees traded him for a depreciating asset that cost the same amount as Bryce Harper on an AAV basis.

No wonder Urshela felt the need to take an apparent shot at the Yankees after their postseason elimination. We would’ve too.