Yankees Deal for Donaldson, Send Sanchez to Twins

Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ben Rortvedt also go to New York in trade.

The New York Yankees made the biggest post-lockout splash Sunday by acquiring third baseman Josh Donaldson and infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa from the Minnesota Twins for catcher Gary Sanchez in a five-player trade.

Rookie catcher Ben Rortvedt is also headed to the Bronx, while the Twins picked up infielder Gio Urshela.

Sunday’s trade was stunning from a few points of view. Most of all, Kiner-Falefa had just been acquired by the Twins a day earlier from the Texas Rangers along with minor-league pitcher Ronny Henriquez for Minnesota catcher Mitch Garver.

It was the second trade of the day for the Twins, who acquired Sonny Gray from the Cincinnati Reds for 2021 first-round draft pick Chase Petty.


Taking on Salary


Donaldson, 36, will make $21 million in 2022 and 2023, with the trade converting an $16 million team option for 2024 to a mutual option with a $6 million buyout. Donaldson also receives a $2 million assignment bonus due to the trade. Kiner-Falefa, who turns 27 on March 23, is projected to make $4.9 million in arbitration and remains under team control through 2024. Rortvedt, 23, makes the new league minimum of $700,000 if he makes the Opening Day roster.

Sanchez, 29, is due to make in the neighborhood of $7.9 million in his final year of team control before being eligible for free agency, while Urshela, 30, will make $6.55 million in 2022 with one more year of team control. In all, the Yankees are adding about $14 million this season with the trade.

The Yankees could be in the market for another big move regarding a first baseman, having been reported to be bidding for free agents Freddie Freeman and Anthony Rizzo, while interested in trading for the Oakland A’s slugger Matt Olson.


Where They Fit


Donaldson, the 2015 American League MVP with the A’s, will slide into his customary third base slot, while Kiner-Falefa seemingly is ticketed to be the starting shortstop, where he won a Gold Glove with the Rangers in 2020. Rortvedt appeared in 39 games while making his major-league debut with the Twins in 2021 and could be part of a platoon with Kyle Higashioka.

Sanchez will be a designated hitter and catcher, while Urshela should take over for Donaldson at third.

Donaldson hit .246 with 26 homers and 72 RBIs, while Kiner-Falefa batted .271, with eight homers and drove in 53. Sanchez hit just .204 with 23 homers and 54 RBIs as Urshela compiled a .267 average to go along with 14 homers and 49 RBIs.


Twins Add Gray


Earlier Sunday, the Twins added to the front of their starting rotation by getting the 32-year-old Gray from the Reds. Cincinnati also sent minor-league right-hander Francisco Peguero to the Twins to acquire Petty.

Gray, who will make $10.9 million in 2022 with an option for 2023, posted a 7-9 mark with a 4.19 ERA and a 1.219 WHIP last year. He walked 50 and struck out 155 in 135.1 innings. Gray immediately moves to the top of a rotation that needs innings-eaters after trading Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays and Kenta Maeda out after having Tommy John surgery.

Petty, who turns 19 on April 4, was the 26th overall pick in last summer’s draft out of Mainland Regional High School in Linwood, N.J.

The move continues a shedding of salary by the Reds, while the Twins are seemingly poised to make more moves after the two deals Sunday.


Photos by Rich Graessle and Rob Grabowski/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Jacob Roy (@jmrgraphics3 on IG)

Steve Drumwright

Steve Drumwright is a lifelong baseball fan who retired as a player before he had the chance to be cut from the freshman team in high school. He recovered to become a sportswriter and have a successful journalism career at newspapers in Wisconsin and California. Follow him on Twitter and Threads @DrummerWrites.

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