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Locking up Gleyber Torres?

Should the Yankees Consider Locking up Gleyber Torres Long Term?

By Sal Maiorana

Match 4, 2024

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Sal Maiorana, a friend of the site, shares some of his thoughts on the Yankees.


For honest, unfiltered analysis on the New York Yankees, you can subscribe to Sal Maiorana's free Pinstripe People Newsletter at https://salmaiorana.beehiiv.com/subscribe.

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There was a time when I was all aboard the trade Gleyber Torres train because when I hopped on prior to the 2023 season, it seemed like the Yankees could recoup a pretty decent return value.


Of course, my thought process was coupled with the idea that some combination of Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza was the future of the Yankees’ middle infield, and a trade of Torres might be a way to bolster the starting rotation, or maybe a competent left fielder.


Brian Cashman stuck with Torres last year and barring a surprise, will do so again in 2024, but as for the future, the general manager doesn’t seem ready to take the plunge long term with Torres who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after this year. When Cashman was asked a few weeks ago about getting a contract extension done at some point this spring, he said, “He’s our second baseman for this year. I haven’t had any conversations about anything past that.”


That might be a mistake. Torres is still a player who occasionally drives me crazy because sometimes his brain goes haywire and he makes such silly mistakes in all areas, mostly as a fielder. But when you look around MLB, he’s one of the most productive offensive second basemen out there, and he’s only 27 years old, so I’ve reversed course on him.


I think he could be a valuable piece of the foundation moving forward, and I also love that he loves being a Yankee and has made it clear that he wants to be in the Bronx for many years to come. I’m sure his agent didn’t like losing that sliver of leverage, but props to Torres for being honest.


“I always say, I feel home right now,” Torres recently told The Athletic. “I know this organization since 2016. I feel good. I know everybody. As a player, you never want to leave your house. I’m in a good spot. I want to be a Yankee for life. That’s one of my goals. Let’s see what happens.”


Maybe Cashman is wading into these waters carefully, perhaps still reeling from the seven-year, $70 million extension he handed Aaron Hicks after his solid performance in 2018, a contract that became a disaster almost before the ink dried, a contract on which the Yankees are still carrying $8.76 million on their 2024 payroll and another $9.5 million in 2025, even though he’s been gone since last May. Similarly, the four-year, $40 million Luis Severino extension was a nightmare, too.


I would also guess that what holds Cashman back is that Torres isn’t exactly a defensive whiz, and he doesn’t really offer much position flexibility, a quality the Yankees - and most teams - covet. He’s strictly a second baseman, and Cashman is likely hesitant about tying up big money in that type of player.


At the plate, Torres is all you could ask for at his position. Among all second basemen in 2023, he was second in games played (158), tied for third in home runs (25), and tied for fifth in RBI (68) and OPS+ (123). He’s already had four seasons where he hit at least 24 homers, his career slash line is .267 average/.334 on base/.454 slugging, and his OPS+ is 115. That’s very good production for the position.


A quick tutorial on OPS+ which I’m going to start using more of this year. It takes the on-base and slugging percentages (OPS) but also normalizes the number across the entire league, accounting for ballpark factors. It’s also a simple measure with 100 being league average, so in Torres’ case, his career 115 OPS+ is 15 percent above league average.


But in the field, he is nothing if not inconsistent. Sometimes he makes it look so easy, and other times he makes it look so hard. He led all second baseman in 2023 with 15 errors, and in outs above average, he was -3.


Here’s what OAA is all about: It’s a defensive metric that measures fielding skill. It represents the amount of outs a player has saved and is calculated by assigning values to plays based on their difficulty, and then adding the values of each play for a season-long cumulative number. Zero is considered league average, so Torres was below that last year. And for comparison, the best fielding second baseman in 2023 based on OAA was former Yankee Thairo Estrada who was plus-20 for the Giants. Marcus Semien of the Rangers, the best hitting second baseman last year, was fifth in OAA at plus-13.


Alas, Torres this is probably who he’s going to be as a defender for the rest of his career. Defense is important, and if that is what is holding Cashman back, his argument has merit.

In the end, money is going to be the key factor on whether Torres comes back. One projection has Torres being worth four years at $17 million annually and that could be too much in Cashman’s calculus.


According to Cot’s Contracts, the Yankees will have $150 million tied up in 2025 on Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Rodon, and DJ LeMahieu. They are going to go to the wall to try to re-sign Juan Soto which could cost at least $40 million per year. They also have other free agents worth re-signing such as Clay Holmes, Tommy Kahnle and Jonathan Loaisiga, and rising arbitration costs on Jose Trevino, Clarke Schmidt, Nestor Cortes and Scott Effross.


“I can’t lie,” Torres told The Athletic. “Sometimes I think that it’s going to be my last year here. I don’t know the business plan next year. It’s just motivation for myself. I always say, we play for another team sometimes. It’s a business. I don’t know the plan for the Yankees or myself.”


Torres is the man for 2024, and the more pressing question at this point - with Peraza out of the mix for a while - is the infield depth. Oswaldo Cabrera is an option, but the kid just can’t hit. Before (last) Sunday’s breakout 3-for-3 game against the Braves he’d been 1-for-23 with one walk on the heels of a 2023 season when he batted .211. “Got to keep working at it and hopefully got to get that bat going. The potential is there,” Aaron Boone said. Because of course he would say that.


Otherwise, you have non-roster invitees Kevin Smith who has 114 games of MLB experience with the Blue Jays and A’s, and Josh VanMeter (300 games with the Reds, Diamondbacks and Pirates). You may see the Yankees go outside the organization to find a better alternative. I saw the name Donovan Solano as a rumor, but he’s 36 so I don’t think the Yankees would do that.


Beyond 2024, the path certainly isn’t clear at second base if Torres does move on. Peraza’s inability thus far to hit major league pitching, and now a shoulder injury that will cost him probably three months, has severely impacted his future. Is it possible that at some point down the line Peraza can get it figured out and become the full-time second baseman? Maybe, but right now that’s pretty hard to envision.


And there really isn’t anyone in the system who looks like a sure-fire candidate to man second base in 2025. The best infield prospects are shortstops, topped by Roderick Arias (a 19-year-old 2022 international signing) and 18-year-old George Lombard Jr. (the Yankees 2023 first-round draft pick). But they are nowhere near ready to push for a job, either as a second base option or as a player who could replace Volpe and send him over to second where I think he actually might be better suited.


One player on the 40-man roster who might be more ready to replace Torres next year is Jorbit Vivas, a 23-year-old former Dodgers prospect who came to the Yankees along with reliever Victor Gonzalez in a December trade. Like Torres, he’s a better hitter than fielder, but he struggled at the plate when he got his first taste of Triple-A in 2023 and he’s probably starting the season down there.


“Gleyber had another good year,” Cashman said. “I think he’s one of the better second basemen in the game. I think he has a chance to really help us. Obviously he’s here because we believe in him and felt like it was our best move to have him.”

14 comentários


Edward Morvitz
Edward Morvitz
18 de mar.

I believe that Durbin is a keeper. He can hit for average, has great speed, stole alot of bases. He blew up the Arizona Fall League. I can see him starting at second in 2025 and leading off. Torres goes if they can resign Soto. They need that 15-20 mil that he would get to put toward Soto. If they cant sign Soto, maybe Torres stays.

Curtir

jeff
18 de mar.

Keep Gleyber Torres. He is still very young. He is extremely experienced. He has been a mentor to the young infielders who have come up (Volpe, Peraza, Cabrera, Durbin, etc), taking all of them under his wing. He still has his best days ahead of him. He destroys Orioles pitching. He is a keeper. Second Basemen who are also power hitters are a rare commodity. There are many great potential successors in the organization, but they are presently unproven. Gleyber, very much, is proven. Sign Torres. Sign Soto. Build the team offense around Judge, Torres, & Soto.

Curtir
jeff
18 de mar.
Respondendo a

True. But at least he is still young at 27 years old, so he would be worth it. If he were "on the other side of 30", I might let him walk if he demands too many years. But he still has youth on his side. Plus the fact that he has taken on a leadership role on the team to the young infield rookies the Yankees have been bringing up.

Curtir

Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
17 de mar.

I'm a fan of Defensive Runs Saved. In 2023, there were 17 2Bs with 800 or more innings. Best was Cleveland's Andres Gimenez, 23. Worst was KC's Michael Massey, -13. Torres comes in tied at 12th (with Baltimore's Adam Frazier) at -4. The median for the 17 is 0 DRS, so Torres is well below average in terms of the rankings, but just somewhat below the median in total DRS. The question then is how quickly he deteriorates from age 28 on.

Curtir

Alan B.
Alan B.
17 de mar.

Sal makes a comment about neither Arias or Lombard being ready to push for a job in the Yankees infield, as a guy who follows the Yankees affiliates and has taken advantage of watching them via the subscription, outside of Benjamin Cowles, there really is no 2B/SS/3B who I can say that the Yankees have a prospect that needs to be on that AA team ahead of either Arias or Lombard. Oh, and Cowles plays all 3 spots pretty well, so even if Serna plays his way up to AA, and claims 2B, I see no reason why either of those guys, if not both, should not be in AA after the trade deadline, if their play warrants it. T…


Curtir

Alan B.
Alan B.
17 de mar.

I've believed for a few years, probably from some point in 2020, that both Jordan Montgomery & Torres were going to be allowed to walk as free agents, unless they were traded first. The only way I saw Torres possibly staying is him becoming the 3B. Personally, I'm a big fan of Caleb Durbin, who probably be the primary SS in Triple-A, after being the 2B last year, and with the switchout of Sweeney (SS) for Vivas (2B). Behind Vivas & Durbin are Jared Serna (who I expect to spend most of '24 in AA), Cowles, then the quartet of Arias, Lombard, Delgado & Riggio. So the Yankees have options. Plus, lineup wise, the Yankees need a leadoff hitter …

Curtir
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