Yankees Add Thump To Lineup, Acquire Josh Donaldson From Twins
The Yankees and Twins swung a deal late Sunday night that retooled New York’s infield while adding a little bit more thump and defense to Minnesota’s roster. The move sent infielders Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa and catching prospect Ben Rortvedt to New York in exchange for catcher Gary Sanchez and third baseman Gio Urshela, who is likely to play shortstop with the Twins.
The Yankees—who moved reliever Zack Britton to the 60-day injured list to make room on their 40-man roster—will reportedly absorb all of the roughly $50 million remaining on Donaldson’s contract.
The move also reunites Sanchez with Sonny Gray—whom the Twins acquired from the Reds earlier Sunday—who were teammates in New York in 2017 and 2018.
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Donaldson’s upside is clear: He’s a powerful hitter who gets on base and doesn’t strike out a ton. He’s also one of the more fiery players in the league, which will play well on one of the biggest stages in the sport. The downside is that he’s 36 years old and only furthers New York’s very righthanded lineup. As constructed, the only expected everyday lefties are Joey Gallo and the switch-hitting Aaron Hicks.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa, SS
New York had both a clear hole at shortstop in the near term and two Top 100 Prospects waiting in the wings at the position in Anthony Volpe (No. 10) and Oswald Peraza (No. 55) in the upper levels. If the team truly believes one or both of those players could be the team’s long-term shortstop, then Kiner-Falefa could be a fine stopgap until they’re ready. Kiner-Falefa is a light hitter with an excellent, versatile glove. Shortstop is his primary position but he’s seen time at second and third base and catcher as well.
Ben Rortvedt, C
The lone prospect in this deal, Rortvedt was the Twins’ second-round pick in 2016 and made his big league debut in 2021. He failed to do much of anything at the plate in 39 big league games, producing an OPS of just .510. He’s earned strong marks for his defense and pitch-framing abilities, though, and will likely serve as the lefthanded side of a catching platoon with the righthanded Kyle Higashioka.
Twins Trade Mitch Garver To Rangers For Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Pitching Prospect
The first post-lockout trade was completed Saturday as the Twins sent catcher Mitch Garver to the Rangers for the multi-positional Isiah Kiner-Falefa and righthanded pitching prospect Ronny Henriquez.
Gary Sanchez, C
Once the Yankees’ top prospect and one of the best overall prospects in the game, Sanchez has been little more than a boom-or-bust type of player over the last few seasons. When he’s hot, few catchers can match his power. When he’s not, he’s prone to long stretches filled with strikeouts. He boasts an extremely strong throwing arm, but he also has had more than his fair share of defensive lapses and had been somewhat supplanted by Higashioka as the more trusted of the team’s two backstops.
Gio Urshela, 3B
Acquired from the Blue Jays in 2018, Urshela quickly proved to be one of the Yankees’ shrewder pickups in recent memory. At his best he provided stellar defense at third base and was a revelation offensively. That was especially true in his first year in pinstripes in 2019, when he hit .314/.355/.534 and was worth 3.8 WAR, as measured by Baseball Reference. He dropped off a bit over the next two seasons, but still showed flashes of the form that helped him go from waiver wire fodder to everyday third baseman. He has plenty of experience at shortstop, too, and will likely get time at the position in Minnesota.