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.
BREAKING: The New York Yankees are finalizing a deal to acquire third baseman Josh Donaldson and shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa from Minnesota, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 14, 2022
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.
Source confirms: Yankees acquiring 3B Josh Donaldson, SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ben Rortvedt for Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela. First: @JeffPassan.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 14, 2022
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:
#Yankees are taking on all of the $50M that Donaldson is owed.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) March 14, 2022
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:
Donaldson owed $21M each of next two seasons. Kiner-Falefa projected to earn about $5M in arbitration, with another year of control remaining. Sánchez projected at $7.9M in final season before free agency, Urshela at $6.55M with another year of control left. @MLBTradeRumors— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 14, 2022
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
The Minnesota #Twins wanted to dump third baseman Josh Donaldson's contract. He is owed $50 million over the next two years, and they now will try to find a taker for catcher Gary Sanchez, who they have no interest in keeping.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 14, 2022
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:
Twins are *not* flipping Gary Sánchez, source tells @TheAthletic. He will share time with Ryan Jeffers.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 14, 2022
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.