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SSTN Point / Counterpoint: Trading Gleyber Torres for Francisco Lindor

Mike Whiteman and Paul Semendinger decided to debate the idea of trading Gleyber Torres in a one-for-one trade with the Cleveland Indians for Francisco Lindor. (From November 22, 2020)

Here is their exchange:

MIKE WHITEMAN – Paul, one of the things that has been discussed throughout Yankeeland this offseason has been last season’s lack of left-handed power and their poor fielding shortstop. The almost universal consensus is that the Yanks must be address these areas for the team to take that next step forward to postseason success. There’s been many solutions offered by writers and bloggers – including us – to remedy this but I’ve recently came to a new idea that I feel fixes both areas.

The Yankees should offer to trade Gleyber Torres to Cleveland for shortstop Francisco Lindor.

Now, I get that a discussion of trading Gleyber invokes an instant “no way!” reaction from most Yankee fans, but hear me out. I think the Yanks get the most of this deal.

PAUL SEMENDINGER – Mike, you’re going to get an immediate “no way” from me. I don’t think this is the way to go. I am willing to hear you out, but, at least at first glance, this seems a bit crazy.

I want Lindor on the Yankees, but I want him with Gleyber Torres, not in exchange for him.

Let me start here: Lindor, just about ready to enter his prime years is 27-years-old. That’s great. It always makes sense to acquire great young talent. Lindor is a great young talent. BUT… Gleyber Torres will only be 24-years-old next season.

No, no, no, no, no. We cannot trade our 24-year-old (soon-to-be) second baseman.

MW – Paul, I get it. I don’t want to deal Gleyber. He’s a great talent, and at age 24 has a great future in front of him. Teams don’t often get better dealing 24-year old players that are two-time all stars and have numbers in his first two seasons that put him in conversations with guys like Mantle and DiMaggio.

But in this case, I think the Yankees do get better by dealing Gleyber for Lindor. In his four full seasons (excluding rookie and 2020 seasons) Lindor has averaged almost 6 WAR per season. Gleyber has been a solid 3+ WAR player, and likely will get better, but he’s not there yet, and likely not in the near future.

Lindor is a two-time Gold Glover at perhaps the most premium position on the diamond – shortstop. Gleyber is an average defensive player at best. Replacing Torres with Lindor in the infield immediately makes the Yankee pitching better – without even signing another starter.

Lindor is the better player going into the Yanks’ championship window that may be slowly closing.

PS – Outside of the fact that I wouldn’t trade Gleyber, I think the Yankees have the resources to acquire Lindor without trading their best young player.

Having Torres and Lindor makes the Yankees much stronger in 2021 – and beyond than having Lindor and LeMahieu, who is entering his decline year, or will be shortly.

Thank you, also for bringing up the players’ ages and their seasonal WARs. Francisco Lindor had his greatest season (7.8 WAR) in his age-24 season… and it’s not really close otherwise. That’s the age Gleyber will be this coming season.

MW – Yes, the Yanks likely do have the resources to deal for Lindor without trading Gleyber, but it may weaken them significantly in other areas. A trade of Torres for Lindor opens up only one position – second base. This is a hole fairly easily filled – both 2020 Gold Glove second basemen are on the market, as is of course LeMahieu, who most rightly say would not be a good bet for being a long term second baseman, but I think would likely do just fine for the next couple years. Remember, we’re in win now mode, not looking to 2023.

This scenario also allows the Yanks to consider using the resources to trade for Lindor for the teams’ real weakness: pitching. After Trevor Bauer, the selection of available free agent pitchers falls of a cliff. If the Yanks aren’t in on Bauer, a trade is going to be the way to go.

PS – I think, Mike, this is where our disagreement really lies.

You are correct, the Yankees are in “win-now” mode, but, while I want them to win it all in 2021, I don’t want them to win it all at the expense of 2022, 2023, and beyond.

I think, by getting Lindor, keeping Torres, and saying goodbye to LeMahieu, they can accomplish both.

With the salaries of Tanaka, Happ, and Paxton coming off the books, as well as Brett Gardner, the Yankees also have the financial strength to sign Trevor Bauer and get another veteran pitcher.

MW – Paul, one thing we do agree upon is that the Yanks do have significant financial strength. Even in this challenging economic time, they still have more resources than most.

Unfortunately, as has been discussed often on SSTN, they don’t always flex those muscles. Remember Patrick Corbin? He was an upper tier free agent that was the perfect fit to the Yanks, and they wouldn’t go the extra year that Washington would. They turned around and traded for James Paxton. They like their financial flexibility.

I see the Bauer pursuit unfolding in a similar way. I just don’t see them getting into a bidding war with someone like the Dodgers for him. If the contract length gets to more than four years, I think they’re out. Then they are left with possibly resigning Tanaka and keeping their fingers crossed on the kids and Luis Severino’s return. Not a place they want to be.

Trading Gleyber for Lindor hurts at first glance, but I think could start on a path to finally getting that elusive World Championship the Yanks have been seeking since 2018.

Paul, I’ve really enjoyed this discussion! Good folks can disagree, and do it respectfully.

PS – Absolutely, Mike. This was fun. Let’s have another discussion soon. I am hoping that some of our other writers can have similar debates in the days, weeks, and months to come.

We will see how this all plays out.

Let’s hope it ends in a World Series Championship in 2021!


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