Should Red Sox Call Yankees About Trade After Trevor Story Injury?

Isiah Kiner-Falefa could help with Boston's shortstop problem


Jan 13, 2023

Desperate times call for desperate measures. But are the Boston Red Sox desperate enough to lean on the New York Yankees — their most-hated rival — in their search for middle-infield depth? published a piece Friday examining the key storylines remaining this Major League Baseball offseason, and several experts — Bradford Doolittle, Alden Gonzalez, Buster Olney, Jesse Rogers and David Schoenfield — weighed in on who will be the biggest name traded before Opening Day.

Schoenfield offered an outside-the-box idea to solve Boston’s shortstop conundrum in wake of Xander Bogaerts’ departure and Trevor Story’s injury: What if the Red Sox swung a trade with the Yankees for Isiah Kiner-Falefa?

“With Trevor Story sidelined for most of the coming season, the Red Sox need a shortstop,” Schoenfield wrote. “Trades between the two teams are rare, but the Yankees did trade Adam Ottavino to the Red Sox in 2021.”

The Red Sox announced this week that Story underwent an elbow procedure that likely will sideline him for several months, if not the entire 2023 season. Story was expected to play shortstop with Bogaerts joining the San Diego Padres in free agency, so his absence obviously is a huge blow, especially since his transition to the other side of the bag already left Boston with a question mark at second base.

Christian Arroyo could hold down the keystone on a full-time basis. And Kiké Hernández’s versatility gives the Red Sox another option at either shortstop or second base. But moving Hernández to the infield opens a spot in Boston’s outfield. So, in essence, the Red Sox would be robbing Peter to pay Paul, a less-than-ideal course of action considering Hernández’s defensive value on the grass.

The middle infield was an area of need before Story went down. Now, it’s a potentially crushing weakness, unless Boston dips into free agency and/or makes a trade. While the Red Sox probably would prefer to stay away from doing business with the Yankees, they simply can’t afford to leave any stones unturned. There just aren’t many impact options available in either market.

So, would Kiner-Falefa be a worthwhile target for Boston, assuming Chaim Bloom and Brian Cashman can put aside the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry for a minute?

Well, his offensive upside is limited, evident by the below-average 84 OPS+ he posted with the Bronx Bombers in 2022. Kiner-Falefa slashed just .261/.314/.327 with four home runs and 48 RBIs in 531 plate appearances last season. But he’s a solid defender who won a Gold Glove with the Texas Rangers during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign. And he’s set to earn just $6 million in 2023, his age-28 season.

The Yankees might prefer to keep Kiner-Falefa, especially if the alternative is helping the Red Sox fix a glaring issue. But New York has plenty of middle-infield depth — with Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, Oswald Peraza, Anthony Volpe and Oswaldo Cabrera all factoring into the 2023 plans — and acquiring Kiner-Falefa might be the equivalent of the Red Sox slapping a Band-Aid on a broken bone, anyway. The Yankees could look to extract an asset while dealing from a position of strength.

If nothing else, it’s an interesting conversation — and one the Red Sox probably should be more open to than usual given the difficult circumstances they’re facing at the moment.

Thumbnail photo via Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports Images
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