TAMPA – The Yankees’ offseason didn’t stay quiet for long.
Hours after Aaron Boone noted the Yankees could be very different coming into the day’s opener, they completed a huge trade with Minnesota on Sunday night that rebuilt their roster and ended Gary’s stay. Sanchez in the Bronx.
It also brought third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Yankees, where he will team up with Gerrit Cole after Donaldson called Cole out for his sticky substance use last June.
The bomb trade sent Sanchez and Gio Urshela to the Twins in exchange for Donaldson, shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and wide receiver Ben Rortvedt.
The move leaves the Yankees with a radically changed infield and a new backstop.
And they might not be done.
The Yankees must also deal with the dynamics of Donaldson and Cole. Donaldson helped make Cole the face of MLB’s crackdown on pitchers’ use of illegal foreign substances when he noted Cole’s immediate drop in turnover rate.
On the field, Donaldson, 36, hit 26 homers with the Twins last season. He owes $50 million on the remainder of his contract — $42 million over the next two seasons with an $8 million buyout in 2025.
With Donaldson at No. 3, Kiner-Falefa – who was just traded from Texas to Minnesota on Saturday – becomes the Yankees’ new starting shortstop.
The Yankees had been looking for an upgrade in that position since Gleyber Torres’ failed experiment ended last season.
The arrival of the first gauntlet Kiner-Falefa, 26, indicates the organization is ready to wait for top prospects Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe – barring another trade – instead of signing one of the best saves- short remaining, Carlos Correa or Trevor Récit.
Peraza, 21, is expected to start the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Volpe, 20, with Double-A Somerset.
Scouts have indicated that Peraza could be ready for the majors by the end of this season and Volpe by 2023, but both need more seasoning.
Ben Rortvedt, a receiver on the left, is the other element of the trade.
The 24-year-old made his debut last season and has played just 39 major league games. He and Kyle Higashioka could split catching duties.
In the process, the Yankees dumped a pair of players who had significant ups and downs in the Bronx, with Sanchez bursting onto the scene in 2016, hitting 20 home runs in just 53 games. He was an All-Star in 2017 and 2019, but was abysmal in 2018 and 2020.
Although he bounced back a bit offensively last season, Sanchez’s defense was suspect and he owes an estimated $8 million in his final year on the umpire before hitting free agency next season.
Urshela was a great Yankees find and took No. 3 with a terrific 2019 season, despite falling behind last season.
And since they haven’t given up any prospects in the trade with the Twins, they could use some of that capital to acquire Matt Olson from Oakland, with the A’s in a fire sale.
First base is another need after the Yankees soured on Luke Voit’s inability to stay in the field. Anthony Rizzo could be brought back as a free agent, with Freddie Freeman considered longer, with the Braves and Dodgers also involved.
For now, Voit remains in the front row, with Torres at second and DJ LeMahieu now in a role he can move into the infield.
As things stand, the Yankees will still need rebounding seasons from Torres and LeMahieu.
And aside from still looking for a first baseman, they won’t rule out more outfield assists.
It all came after Boone said of the Yankees’ quiet start to the offseason: “The winter, so to speak, isn’t over. … And the winner is crowned at the end of October. There are plenty of times you can win the offseason — or lose the offseason, regardless of perception. In the end, we want to be the last team standing in October. And I would say that the assessment of our offseason and winter is a bit premature.
He also added: “We can win now with what we have.”
This is no longer a problem.