Kiner-Falefa’s showcase: Who will secure his services if he leaves the Yankees?

Isiah-Kiner Falefa, the player of the Yankees

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Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, the versatile utility man of the New York Yankees, is poised to become a free agent at the conclusion of this season. Having displayed his ability to excel at multiple positions, Yankees fans have witnessed his adaptability on the field. However, it’s noteworthy that in both the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Kiner-Falefa spent a significant amount of time, a combined total of 294 games, at shortstop—156 games with the Texas Rangers in 2021 and another 138 games with the Yankees in 2022.

Home run hero: Kiner-Falefa’s free agency sparks MLB buzz

As he approaches free agency, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that his most lucrative opportunity may lie at the shortstop position, where he boasts a career total of 312 games, the most in any single position throughout his career.

For Kiner-Falefa, securing a full-time role at shortstop could become a reality on the East Coast, possibly in the National League. Recent reports from the Miami Herald suggest that the Miami Marlins are actively seeking an upgrade at shortstop during the upcoming offseason. Joey Wendle has been handling the position for the Marlins this season but is set to become a free agent. While the Marlins could consider retaining Wendle, his batting performance this season, with an average below .225, may prompt them to explore other options.

Internally, the Marlins do have potential candidates in Jon Berti, Garrett Hampson, and Jacob Amaya to fill the shortstop role. However, Kiner-Falefa’s experience and versatility make him an appealing candidate for a team like the Marlins, who are in need of a dependable shortstop.

Unlike the previous offseasons, particularly in the shortstop market, the 2023 offseason appears to be relatively subdued. A considerable amount of money was allocated to middle infielders in the past two offseasons, with Corey Seager’s 10-year, $325 million deal with the Texas Rangers being a standout example. This deal ultimately led to Kiner-Falefa’s departure from the Rangers, as he was subsequently traded to the Twins and eventually ended up with the Yankees.

Given the current landscape, the upcoming offseason is considered to have a shortage of top-tier infielders. Kiner-Falefa’s versatility certainly broadens his appeal to potential suitors. However, it’s his experience and proficiency at shortstop that could make him an attractive target for teams like the Marlins, who are in search of stability in that crucial position.

While Kiner-Falefa’s performance numbers have dipped slightly this season, it’s crucial to reflect on his offensive prowess during the two seasons when he was the regular shortstop. In 2021, with the Rangers, he achieved a batting average of .271, along with eight home runs and 53 RBIs—career highs in the latter two categories. In the subsequent season with the Yankees, he maintained a batting average of .261 while contributing four home runs and 48 RBIs.

Should Kiner-Falefa enter the free-agent market, it’s highly likely that teams in need of an experienced shortstop, like the Marlins, will express significant interest in securing his services at his preferred position.

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