Yankees, Gleyber Settle on Deal; Avoid Arbitration
On Saturday, the Yankees announced that they came to terms with their last arbitration-eligible player on a deal for the 2023 season.
Just over two weeks ago, on January 14th, the New York Yankees and their arbitration-eligible players had to come to an agreement on a contract for the 2023 season or else risk going into a hearing. The Yankees were able to come to an agreement on contracts with 9 of their 10 eligible players, with the lone hold-out being Gleyber Torres.
The New York Yankees filed their desired contract for Torres at $9,700,000. Gleyber Torres and his camp filed their desired contract at $10,200,000. The difference of $500,000 is a lot, but was a relatively small number when looking at the amount of money in baseball (and especially that the Yankees have available). It also helps that Gleyber was a 3rd time arbitration-eligible player and was coming off of what may have been his best overall season in his career.
During the 2022 season, Gleyber Torres played in 140 games while hitting to a .257/.310/.451/.761 quadruple slash (114 OPS+). He also had 135 hits, 24 home runs, 54 extra base hits, 76 RBI's, stole 10 bases (and was caught 5 times), and had 39 walks to 129 strikeouts. These numbers don't jump off the page- nor should they- but they do show a player who plays the typical version of baseball in 2022. They also show a player who is better than average, by a fair margin, at playing that version of baseball.
Though a bit far from his career bests (which are also, unfortunately, incredibly skewed due to the ball difference in 2019), they also show a player who still has room to continue to get better offensively.
What isn't shown here is that Gleyber Torres also had a positive defensive season for the first time in his career as a second baseman. the 2022 season was the first where the Yankees gave him an everyday role to be on the right side of the infield, and Torres handled the position very well. He wasn't a gold glove winner (or finalist), but he did post his best fielding percentage (.985), turned his most double plays (50), and had the fewest errors (8) in his career.
All of this led Gleyber Torres to posting a +4.1 bWAR, which ranked 3rd on the 2022 Yankees (behind Aaron Judge and Nestor Cortes).
A payday seemed worthwhile. In 2022, Gleyber Torres earned $6,250,000. MLBTR (the leading expert in arbitration projections) placed a 2023 contract for $9,800,000.
After Settling (aka, My Opinions):
Gleyber Torres beat the MLBTR projections by $195,000. He also settled at just over half of what the middle ground would have been between the Yankees and his offer (which would've had him at a $9,950,000). Instead, he is able to boast a small win for himself with an extra $45,000 to laugh with to the bank.
I also think- and hope- that this will be good for Gleyber Torres moving forward as a Yankee.
There was a point in time that I believed Torres was going to be the next face of the Yankees franchise and the next captain. He was a budding shortstop superstar who made the league and greatly impressed as a 21-year-old. Instead, he's now 5 years into an MLB career while posting a combined +11.5 bWAR (which is less than 1 WAR better than Aaron Judge did in 2022 alone). He also lost his position as a shortstop. That will all play negatively in a players head.
Now, even with those "failures" during his time in the major leagues, he can look at it more positively. He can hold his head high that, even with missing the mark on lofty expectations that in the past pinned him as a future superstar, he still was able to get the Yankees to pay him. And he was able to beat the middle ground.
(As a quick aside, I also think this shows good favor of the Yankees front office. That $45,000 is a games worth of orange soda sales alone. It's a cost that means nothing to them. It'd be like if you or I threw a penny on the ground.)
I hope this gets Gleyber Torres on the right mental path for another great season in 2023.
I don't know if I have shared this before, and maybe it's just me, but I think Gleyber Torres' game goes through a cycle of threes. To describe it briefly:
Gleyber Torres will start hitting the ball well for a week or two, which means Gleyber Torres will try to become a power hitter.
By modifying his swing towards trying to hit home runs, Gleyber Torres loses that ability to hit the ball well.
Gleyer Torres goes through a 2 week dip as he reworks his swing. (Then, go back to step 1.)
Maybe this bit of confidence in beating the Yankees out for their money will help him get focused on being an above-average all-around hitter. Maybe this little bit of winning will help him realize that potential as a player with 20-home run pop, but also with 150+ hits and 30+ doubles. Maybe this will help him focus more on hitting the ball instead of hitting the ball hard. Balls in play will always beat strikeouts, in terms of bringing a player up.
This may be a make-or-break year for Torres. He'll have one more year of control in 2024 and will likely be looking for another raise past $15,000,000. The Yankees already have a second baseman making that type of money. That other second baseman also has a better glove and has been a better hitter. (Though he's also going to be 34 in 2023 as opposed to Gleyber Torres' being 26.)
I hope he does well. He's a necessary piece to be great if the Yankees want to be great in 2023.