Yankees rotation may not be complete yet

Yankees lose Isiah Kiner-Falefa to Blue Jays - Who Can Fill His Spot?

It is a sad day in the Bronx as Isiah Kiner-Falefa is taking his talents to Toronto. The free agent took a two year, $15 million deal, including one million in incentives with the Blue Jays, after spending his last two seasons with the Yankees. While IKF is no Aaron Judge or Gerrit Cole, IKF served as a key piece on the field both offensively and defensively for New York.

Last season, IKF hit six home runs (11th on team), 37 RBIs (8th on team), 12 doubles (9th on team), one triple and drove in 39 runs (8th on team) for the Yanks subpar offense. IKF also recorded 14 stolen bases (3rd on team), a batting average of .242 (5th on team), on-base percentage of .306 (5th on team), .340 slugging percentage (7th on team) and .646 OPS (7th on team).

IKF was one of the Yankees' most consistent players throughout the long and dreadful season last year and gave Yankees fans someone to root for. IKF could be considered one of the best utility guys in Yankee history because in 2023, he played 10 different positions: second base, third base, short stop, left field, center field, outfield, designated hitter, pinch hitter, pinch runner and even pitcher. Whether
IKF was coming off the bench or in the starting lineup, he always made an impact in whatever way he could.

Throughout IKF's short time as a Yankee, he provided some great memories, like his crazy ninth inning against the Mariners on 6/22/23 where he pitched and hit a home run. While he may not have been the flashiest or considered a star, his production helped the Yankees find some success in a down year. On top of his on the field production IKF was a great teammate and represented the Bronx Bombers positively. IKF never complained despite the up and down treatment and playing time he received from the coaching staff. IKF was always open and honest about his occasional struggles at the plate and never blamed any player or coach for his slumps.

Not many players can handle the spotlight that the New York market creates, but IKF was more than capable of performing under it. It's unfortunate IKF's time in the Bronx has come to a close, but hopefully Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman can find someone else to fill IKF's role, whether that be from the Yankees own farm system or in free agency.

Yankees Possible Replacements for IKF in Farm System

While there may not be an exact replacement for what IKF was able to do on the field and in the locker room, there are some players who potentially could. Here are a few players to consider from the Yanks own farm system first:

  • Spencer Jones (OF): The 6-6 235 lb. all around lefty, played for both the Yankees Double-A and High-A affiliate in 2023. With the Hudson Valley Renegades Jones had a batting average of .268, OBP of .337, SLG of .450, OPS of .787, 13 home runs and 56 RBIs (100 games). With the Somerset Patriots Jones had a batting average of .261, OBP of .333, SLG of .406, OPS of .739, three home runs and 10 RBIs (17 games). The 2022 25th-overall pick ranks first among Yankees prospects and could be seen making a move to the Bronx sometime in 2024.
  • Everson Pereira (OF): The 5'11 191 lb. Venezuela native saw some action with the Yankees last season after several injuries to key players. In 27 games in the Bronx, Pereira had a batting average of .151, OBP of .233, SLG of .194, OPS of .427 and 10 RBIs. While Pereira's time in the big leagues in 2023 was a little disappointing, the experience was needed to further his growth. There were definitely some negatives last season, but also some positives. The third ranked prospect could play a key role in coming off the bench for New York in the 2024 season, like IKF did.
  • Tyler Hardman (3B): The 6'2 230 lb. righty could be an interesting choice for New York if the team can't find anyone else. With Somerset in 2023, Hardman had a batting average of .237, OBP of .332, SLG of .558, OPS of .890, 26 home runs and 56 RBIs. The Yankees fifth overall pick in 2021 would have to spend some time in triple-a before making his way to the Bronx, but if injuries and victories don't go New York's way, they might just start seeing what the young guys can do.

Potential Free Agent Fits

  • Cody Bellinger (OF): The well-known lefty is a killer at the plate and makes clutch defensive plays. In 2023, Bellinger had a batting average of .307, OBP of .356, SLG of .525, OPS of .882, 26 home runs and 96 RBIs. The addition of Bellinger would strengthen the already strong outfield unit for the Yanks and bring a strong lefty to the plate (something New York desperately needs). Bellinger can also play the infield if needed, as he has had experience in both. On top of this Bellinger is 28 years old, meaning that he still has a ton of good baseball left to play.
  • Amed Rosario (SS): The Dominican Republic native had another solid year at the plate, despite playing for two teams; Guardians and Dodgers. In 2023 he recorded a batting average of .261, OBP of .304, SLG of .389, OPS of .692, six home runs and 58 RBIs. While Rosario might not be the biggest star, he brings production to the plate and can play shortstop, second base, outfield or DH.

These are just a few of the players that Cashman and the Yankees can consider, but there are plenty more out there in other teams' farm systems. If the Yankees want to bounce back in 2023, they need to add more players who are willing to contribute in any way possible in addition to their stars.