There's a reason the New York Yankees kept Isiah Kiner-Falefa this offseason when he was tendered a contract. Fans might not have agreed with it (especially since the price was $6 million), but the front office likely saw an opportunity to get value for IKF if teams got desperate during Spring Training.
After just three days' worth of games, the Los Angeles Dodgers saw their starting shortstop, Gavin Lux, go down with a serious knee injury. He was carted off the field and couldn't put any pressure on his right leg. On Tuesday morning, it was announced that Lux will miss the season (in all likelihood) with a torn right ACL.
The Dodgers' initial plan heading into 2023 was to have Lux starting at shortstop, top prospect Miguel Vargas at second base, Max Muncy handling third, and Miguel Rojas as the utility player.
But that's all changed. Expect Rojas to slip into the starting shortstop role and the Dodgers to be "down" a utility player (unless they feel top prospect Michael Busch can emerge). But if he doesn't ... we know a guy that can help!
IKF is expected to be relegated (well, just where he belongs) back to a utility role in 2023 after the experiment of starting him at shortstop failed last year (as anticipated). Only problem is the Yankees have DJ LeMahieu that can handle that role. And with Josh Donaldson unable to be traded, it kind of all works out.
Could Dodgers be trade destination for Yankees' Isiah Kiner-Falefa?
It's not easy to come by shortstops just a month before Opening Day, so the Dodgers might be stuck with Rojas holding down the fort. IKF would give manager Dave Roberts a ton of flexibility, since he has the ability to play second, short and third at an above-average level. That would also help LA keep their plan of utilizing Chris Taylor in the outfield more.
The Dodgers made it known they're not dipping below the first luxury tax threshold, so inheriting $6 million for IKF won't be a problem. They also have the necessary prospect depth to strike a deal here (since it's not like this will cost them anything prohibitive). Then again, if the Yankees were able to get Clayton Beeter out of the Joey Gallo trade, they could get some decent value for a full season of one of the game's better utility gloves.
With a deal, the Dodgers can maintain their infield flexibility and partially weather the storm without Lux. As for the Yankees, they can clear $6 million, as well as open up a bench spot for a younger player that could provide better value. IKF's presence is redundant, as long as DJ LeMahieu is healthy and Oswald Peraza is ready to be the everyday starter at shortstop.
If this isn't of interest to the Dodgers, Yankees fans can at least retain hope that there's another month of action that could tip the scales further in the direction of an IKF trade, as position battles heat up and injuries unfortunately pile up.