Sunday, June 26, 2022

Twins make megadeal with the Yankees, sending Josh Donaldson (and more) to New York

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins made a splash Saturday afternoon, trading catcher Mitch Garver to Texas for shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa. They made a wave Sunday afternoon, acquiring two-time all-star Sonny Gray for first-round pick Chase Petty.

That was nothing compared to the tsunami they created Sunday night.

President of baseball operations Derek Falvey, general manager Thad Levine and Co. pulled off a mega-deal late Sunday night, shipping third baseman Josh Donaldson, newly-acquired Kiner-Falefa and catcher Ben Rortvedt to the New York Yankees for infielder Gio Urshela and catcher Gary Sánchez.

In doing so, the Twins’ reportedly cleared off the books of Donaldson’s full contract — it was the largest the Twins had doled out to a free agent in team history. Donaldson was due a remaining $50 million over the life of the contract, which spanned two more seasons and included an option.

The moves hint toward further action as the Twins are still in need of rotation upgrades, bullpen help and will now need to sort out the left side of their infield. For now, all the wheeling and dealing, which again seems far from complete at the moment, leaves the Twins with plenty to sort out in the coming days and weeks.

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Donaldson, a former most valuable player, brought a veteran presence to the clubhouse, thump to the lineup and an edge to the field. He now heads to New York, where he will be teammates with ace Gerrit Cole, who he very publicly intimated last season had been using sticky substances to doctor baseballs. In two seasons with the Twins, Donaldson slashed .244/.355/.474 with 32 home runs, while also dealing with numerous leg injuries that kept him off the field at times.

Kiner-Falefa, just a day earlier, had talked about his excitement to be joining a team that wanted him. Falvey, shortly before that, had said Kiner-Falefa had been a player the Twins had targeted prior to the lockout.

His stint with the Twins lasted less than 48 hours.

The Twins now have a hole at shortstop after trading Kiner-Falefa that must be addressed. Most of the greatest free-agent shortstop class to exist is now off the market, but Carlos Correa, the prize of the class, and Trevor Story still remain, and the Twins now have plenty of payroll flexibility should they choose to address the position through free agency.

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Urshela, 30, primarily a third baseman, hit .267 with a .720 OPS last season for the Yankees, though Yankees manager Aaron Boone had recently proclaimed him the team’s shortstop for the time being. The Twins also have Luis Arraez and Jose Miranda, who had a breakout season at Double and Triple-A last season, in the mix.

Sánchez, 29, is expected to pair with Ryan Jeffers to form the Twins’ catching tandem after the Twins traded away two catchers in as many days.

The two-time all-star slashed .204/.307/423 last year with 23 home runs in 117 games for the Yankees. After trading Garver, Falvey indicated the Twins would be looking to add more catching depth. In Rortvedt, 23, the Twins traded away a young, defensive-minded catcher who had debuted just last year.

After a 99-day lockout during which transactions were frozen, the Twins are more than making up for lost time. Expect more to come.

Nation World News Desk
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