Gary Sanchez against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium on...

Gary Sanchez against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

TAMPA, Fla. — Yankees fans desperate for general manager Brian Cashman to do something — anything — got their wish in a big way late Sunday night.

Gary Sanchez, who has split the fan base in recent years in a way that few other players have in recent memory, was dealt to the Twins — along with third baseman Gio Urshela — in exchange for former AL MVP third baseman Josh Donaldson, shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and catcher Ben Rortvedt, the Yankees announced.

The bombshell trade netted the Yankees a player — Kiner-Falefa — they’ve wanted in the past, including at last year’s trade deadline. They hope it solved their need for a shortstop after the Gleyber Torres experiment failed last year.

It gives the Yankees an infield that, at the moment, looks like this: Donaldson (as well as DJ LeMahieu) at third, Kiner-Falefa at short, Torres at second and Luke Voit (as well as LeMahieu at times) at first. Kiner-Falefa, 26, also can play third and catch.

Cashman has been looking for an upgrade at first as Voit, whom the Yankees tried to deal before last year’s trade deadline after acquiring Anthony Rizzo, has been injury-prone in his career in pinstripes. LeMahieu, while capable of playing first adequately, isn’t seen as a realistic everyday choice there.

Team insiders continue to say that acquiring A’s first baseman Matt Olson is the preference, but Oakland is looking for a major haul of quality prospects. Though the Yankees like free agent Freddie Freeman, indications are that they won’t overpay either in years or dollars for the first baseman, who will turn 33 in September.

Rizzo remains in play as a possibility.

Josh Donaldson career stats

Years: 11

Slash line: .269 / .367 / .505 

HR: 251

RBI: 728

2B: 259

MVP: 1

Sunday’s trade marked the end of Sanchez’s roller-coaster ride of a career with the Yankees.

After signing for $3 million at the age of 16 out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, he made a steady climb through the minors — which was not without a few speed bumps — before debuting in October 2015.

After being recalled on Aug. 3, 2016, Sanchez began a historic tear, keeping a team that was a seller at the trade deadline in contention and finishing with 20 homers in 53 games, including 19 in a 37-game stretch.

But after All-Star appearances in 2017 and 2019, Sanchez began to slide, specifically at the plate, which brought more attention to his defensive struggles.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa career stats

Years: 4

Avg: .265

OBP: .316

2B: 59

Gold Gloves: 1

 

He will get a fresh start with the Twins, a change of scenery that rival talent evaluators and more than a few in the Yankees’ organization have said Sanchez desperately needed.

Kiner-Falefa hit .271 with eight homers and a .670 OPS in 158 games last season with the Rangers. A quality defender, he won a Gold Glove at third base in 2020 with Texas.

The Twins had acquired Kiner-Falefa from the Rangers for catcher Mitch Garver on Saturday.

The always dangerous Donaldson (when healthy) hit .247 with 26 homers and an .827 OPS in 135 games with Minnesota last season. He was named the AL MVP in 2014.

Donaldson called out Gerrit Cole over the sticky substance issue last year, mentioning a drop in fastball spin rate immediately after the announcement of the crackdown. Now he'll join Cole in the Yankees' clubhouse.

Josh Donaldson career stats

Years: 11

Slash line: .269 / .367 / .505 

HR: 251

RBI: 728

2B: 259

MVP: 1

Rortvedt, 24, a second-round pick of the Twins in 2016, is considered an above-average defender who could develop into something more than that.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa career stats

Years: 4

Avg: .265

OBP: .316

2B: 59

Gold Gloves: 1

 

Before the trades, in the fifth spring training kickoff news conference of his tenure as the Yankees’ manager, Aaron Boone said: "We can win now with what we have. That said, I know we’re working hard to see if there’s areas where we can make improvements, whether that’s trade market or free agency."

He added, "The reality is, we have a lot of great people in that room, a lot of great players in that room. For all the ups and downs that we had last year, we still managed to get to the playoffs with all those guys. And we also feel like there’s [a] handful of guys that didn’t have their best year. And we certainly expect guys to come and in some cases hopefully continue to duplicate what they’ve done. But hopefully we’re able to see some improvement with guys as well.

"But there’s no excuses no matter what happens. We expect to be a great team, and whether we make zero moves from now to Opening Day through the end of the season, the expectations are high in that room, and that won’t change."

Boone cautioned against drawing any wide-ranging conclusions based on the first couple of days after the sport reopened for business.

"The winter, so to speak, is not over," he said. "And the winner is crowned at the end of October. There’s a lot of times you can win the offseason or lose the offseason, whatever the perception may be. In the end, we want to be the last team standing in October, so I would say evaluating our offseason, the winter, is a little premature.

"But that said, my job as a manager is to try and get our guys ready to play at a championship level, and that’ll be our focus again whether we make a move or we don’t."

More Yankees headlines