As Tuesday’s 6 p.m. trade deadline neared, Isiah Kiner-Falefa awaited clarity.
The Yankees’ utilityman, an impending free agent, had just discussed the anxieties that players feel on deadline day. Suddenly moving, packing, uprooting families and separating from friends and teammates is not easy, no matter how much money you make. And in Kiner-Falefa’s case, he would have had to coordinate care and travel plans for his goldendoodle, Bella.
“IKF” didn’t have to do any of that on Tuesday, though. The deadline came and went, and no member of the Yankees’ brass informed him of a trade. He eventually started shouting in excitement.
“I didn’t get called into the office,” Kiner-Falefa said Wednesday. “6, 6:15, I was waiting, waiting, waiting…
“They didn’t find me. Nothing happened, and it was a sigh of relief, and I just started screaming.”
While some players use social media to track trade rumors before the deadline, Kiner-Falefa tried to avoid that.
“I don’t look on Twitter,” he said. “If I look on Twitter, I just see bad things about me.”
Maybe that was true in 2022, when Kiner-Falefa struggled in his first year with the Yankees while working as their everyday shortstop. His defense often lacked at the position, and his bat didn’t do enough to stem rampant criticism from fans.
This season, however, has been a different story.
After learning to play the outfield in spring training, Kiner-Falefa’s defense is still a work in progress. But on Wednesday, he recorded the first two outfield assists of his career in a win over the Rays.
“I’m not surprised,” Anthony Volpe, who replaced Kiner-Falefa at shortstop, said of his teammate’s throws. “He’s got a cannon.”
Kiner-Falefa has played every position except first base and catcher this season. He’s even pitched four times, allowing just one earned run over four innings.
The bat has made an impact, too.
While his overall numbers are nothing special, Kiner-Falefa entered Thursday with a .301/.372/.462 slash line over his last 52 games. Known as a light hitter, he recorded five home runs, 12 extra-base hits, 26 RBI and five stolen bases over the span.
Kiner-Falefa is also hitting .318 with runners in scoring position this season, continuing a valuable trend that often got overlooked last season.
“Izzy’s just playing well all-around,” Aaron Boone said, “and it’s good to see.”
Kiner-Falefa’s recent production and career-long willingness to do whatever is asked of him — he learned to catch in Texas — has endeared him to a larger collection of Yankees fans in his second year with the team. It would have been hard to believe a year ago, but a lot of fans actually reciprocated Kiner-Falefa’s excitement when his post-trade deadline reaction was shared online.
With an expiring contract, it’s unclear how much longer Kiner-Falefa will play for the Yankees, the team he grew up rooting for. Before Tuesday’s deadline, he talked about how much he enjoys living and playing in the city.
“I just love everything about this place,” Kiner-Falefa said with his immediate future still up in the air.
On Wednesday, he no longer had to worry about a trade. Kiner-Falefa is staying put, for now anyway. He’s glad that’s the case.
“I’m happy to be here,” he said. “I was screaming at 6 o’clock yesterday. They didn’t call my name. So yeah, thank God I’m a Yankee. I’m really happy.”
Source: Berkshire mont