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Josh Donaldson dealt to NYY with Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Rortvedt; Gary Sanchez, Gio Urshela to Twins

What?

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

In the kind of late-night deal that makes you go, “What? When did I start drinking? Why is the Hamm’s bear in my home?” the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees announced a major-league deal with five notable names changing sides.

Bear with me here.

Kiner-Falefa, who just joined the organization yesterday, now has to re-route his travel arrangements to the Yankee spring complex. He’s joined by Josh Donaldson, who played in exactly 163 games for the Twins after headlining the club’s free agent acquisition group ahead of the 2020 season.

Then it gets more interesting.

A day after parting with Mitch Garver, the Twins acquire Gary Sanchez, whose reputation for catching is questionable at best and openly abysmal at worst. Rumor had it the Yankees would have parted with Sanchez at any point over the last few seasons had they found a suitor — well, here we are.

Gio Urshela broke out in 2019 during the juiced-ball campaign, but racked up just a 96 OPS+ last season, spending time at third and short.

Ben Rortvedt, of course, made his forearms known in 39 games with Minnesota last year.

So, what’s the rub here? Well, a key element of the deal is the finances:

This was probably inevitable for two reasons — one, it explains the necessity to take Gary Sanchez. Two, it wouldn’t have made much sense for the Twins to part with the still-valuable Donaldson, UNLESS the arrangement freed up the payroll. Which it does. At a glance:

Okay, so —

  • Trade your starting C
  • Acquire a SS
  • Trade the SS, your starting 3B, and a third-string C for a worse C and a worse 3B
  • Then, indicate you don’t want the C

That would leave the Twins with Ryan Jeffers, no other backstops, no shortstop, an okay third baseman, and about $20MM in freed-up payroll. Although, Ken Rosenthal’s source contradicts Bob Nightengale’s:

I’m not a betting man, but if I were — I would say that there’s a free agent acquisition in the works, and it might be a big one. With the moves made throughout the rest of this winter, it doesn’t make sense for this move to be a straight salary dump... there may be a new face on the Twins within the next 24 hours, and maybe — just maybe! — it’s an exciting one.