Free Agent Profile: Isiah Kiner-Falefa among the veteran infielders the Blue Jays have been linked to

Brennan Delaney
2 months ago
The Blue Jays either need to re-sign Matt Chapman or find a veteran to play on the left side of their infield this winter.
This is a free agent profile, where we take a look at the players on the open market this winter and whether or not they would be fits for the Blue Jays. In this article, we’re going to take a look at Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who the Blue Jays showed interest in ahead of the trade deadline and have been linked to again this winter.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s 2023:

Kiner-Falefa had a tough season in 2023 with the New York Yankees, slashing .242/.306/.340 with six home runs in 361 plate appearances. He had a 7.8 BB% and a 19.4 K% for an 82 wRC+ and a 0.2 fWAR, the lowest total since 2019 with the Rangers.
There were plenty of rumours that the Yankees were going to move IKF ahead of the trade deadline after the team had fallen out of playoff contention but they wound up keeping him for the entire season. As noted with the Jon Heyman tweet above, the Blue Jays showed interest in IKF when Bo Bichette was injured in late July.
The 28-year-old’s best season came in 2021 with Texas, as he slashed .271/.312/.357 with eight home runs. He had the same wRC+ as he did in 2023, but posted a 1.6 fWAR, and a 1.5 fWAR in the following season. This is largely because of his defence at shortstop, as he posted 10 Defensive Runs Saved and -6 Outs Above Average in 1360 innings at shortstop.
For his career, Kiner-Falefa is slashing .261/.314/.346 with 26 home runs in 2415 plate appearances. He has an 81 career wRC+ and has accumulated 3.8 fWAR in his six career seasons. Defensively, he’s accumulated 25 DRS and -6 OAA in 2691 innings at shortstop, and 19 DRS and 22 OAA in 1207 1/3 innings at third base.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s contract:

Neither Jim Bowden from The Athletic or MLB Trade Rumors have a contract prediction for Kiner-Falefa, as he’s not one of the top names on the free-agent market this winter. Last season, he signed a contract worth $6 million in his final year of arbitration with the Yankees.
After a season where his defensive numbers declined and his bat was once again below average, I wouldn’t be surprised if IKF winds up signing a contract at around that same number. A comparable from last winter is Jeimer Candelario, an infielder with talent but mixed results at the big-league level, and he wound up signing a one-year, $5 million contract with the Washington Nationals. 

Is Isaiah Kiner-Falefa a fit for the Blue Jays:

The Blue Jays have a bunch of prospects in the upper minors who can play all around the infield. Some of those players on the 40-man roster who could figure into Toronto’s plans next year include Orelvis Martinez, Addison Barger, Rafael Lantigua, and Otto López.
However, where there’s smoke, there is fire. Kiner-Falefa has been linked to the Blue Jays before and Shi Davidi mentioned in a recent post at Sportsnet that they’ve been engaged with him this winter. If Matt Chapman leaves in free agency, the Blue Jays will need a veteran to replace his spot on the roster, because there’s considerable risk to banking on a rookie like Barger or Martinez doing so for a full season. 
All that being said, it feels like signing IKF is unnecessary when Santiago Espinal is already on on the roster.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.



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