Yankees, Twins Make Blockbuster Trade

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The New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins swung an enormous trade Sunday night. New York acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson and shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa, along with rookie catcher Ben Rortvedt. Catcher Gary Sanchez and third baseman Gio Urshela are headed to Minnesota. It is the first major offseason move by the Yankees post-lockout. The Yankees announced the move on Twitter shortly after ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported it.

On the Move

In Donaldson, the Yankees are getting a reliable veteran to man the hot corner. The 2015 AL MVP remains a very good power bat and run producer. In 135 games with the Twins in 2021, he hit .247 with 26 homers, 72 RBI, and a .827 OPS. Donaldson appears to be a good short-term option for the Bombers at third, but since he’s 36 years old, it remains a mystery what the team’s long-term plans are for the position.

Kiner-Falefa is arguably the most intriguing acquisition by New York. He is not known for his power. However, he is a decent contact hitter, hitting in the high .200’s over the last two seasons. IKF is also an outstanding defender at short, winning a Gold Glove in 2020. The biggest question mark about this deal is how it impacts the Yankees’ potential pursuit of Carlos Correa or Trevor Story. It remains unclear whether they will start Kiner-Falefa at short until highly touted prospect Anthony Volpe arrives, or whether they plan to snag a star shortstop and keep IKF on the bench.

Rortvedt is a rookie catcher who got his first taste of major league action last year with Minnesota. In 39 games, he hit .169 with three homers and seven RBI. Of course, that’s too small of a sample size to read anything into. He will be very much in the running for the starting job behind the plate.

Sanchez Era Is Over

From the other side of things, the big takeaway is that the Gary Sanchez era in New York has ended. Although he burst on the scene early in his career, Sanchez’s offense declined the last few years, and he had occasional hiccups behind the plate. A change of scenery could very well give him newfound confidence and revive his career, because the talent is certainly there.

Gio Urshela was a fan favorite in New York and may become one in Minnesota. His offensive production dipped slightly last season, but he maintains a reputation as a clutch hitter and stout defender. Urshela is a viable option for the Twins at both shortstop and third base.

Although this is a major trade involving several prominent players, its full impact is not yet clear. Whether the Yankees go after a star shortstop or set their sights more on a first baseman will be the biggest factor in judging this trade for them.

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Players Mentioned:

Josh DonaldsonIsiah Kiner-FalefaBen RortvedtGary SanchezGio Urshela, Carlos CorreaTrevor StoryAnthony Volpe