If any objective truth needs to be put on paper, it is that Yankees starting infielder Gleyber Torres has substantially more value than veteran Josh Donaldson. Donaldson is being paid $25 million for the 2023 season at 37 years old, but he will inevitably be gone after the year comes to an end and his contract expires organically.
In a perfect world, the Yankees would’ve found a trade partner for Donaldson, but no team in their right mind would take on his lofty salary and plummeting efficiency.
Ultimately, the Bombers have a choice to make, considering top prospect Anthony Volpe has been tearing up spring training and essentially forcing the hand of manager Aaron Boone to secure a 26-man roster spot.
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How the Yankees can start Anthony Volpe but also retain Gleyber Torres:
There have been heavy talks that trading Gleyber Torres is the only way to get Anthony Volpe in the starting lineup. However, that is not true, and when it comes down to winning games, that might be the worst scenario. Unless the Yankees are able to get a starting-level left-fielder or quality pitcher in return for Torres, trading him now may only hurt the team’s offensive production.
Last season, Torres had a bounce-back campaign, hitting .257 with a .310 OBP, 24 homers, 76 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases. He posted a 22.6% strikeout rate and a 6.8% walk rate, enjoying the highest wRC+ he’s had since 2019 at 115. He also enjoyed a 2.7 WAR and expects to have a 3.6 WAR based on his Steamer projections for the upcoming season.
Torres can easily be seen as a top-five hitter on the team and only expects to get better, having finally found his footing after two down years. With that being said, the Yankees have control over him until 2015, and being a top -0 second baseman in baseball certainly suggests they are better off keeping than moving him.
However, if the Yankees manage to retain Torres, another player needs to be sacrificed. Donaldson makes the most sense on the hot corner, despite his salary. In theory, Oswald Peraza or Volpe could end up playing third base while Torres maintains his job at second, and the infield is situated with a fresh combo of young and improving talent.
Just to give you some context into how well Volpe is playing lately, he’s hitting .294 with a .415 OBP, 1.003 OPS, 10 hits, and two homers across 34 spring training at-bats. While spring stats need to be taken with a grain of salt, he’s been putting together phenomenal at-bats and making quality contact, but his defensive efficiency has also been on full display. While he’s predominantly played short and second base during spring training, there’s a strong argument to make that Peraza could easily play on the hot corner if not DJ LeMahieu.
Ultimately, the Yankees have to see if Peraza can hold his own offensively at the MLB level since his floor offers gold glove level defense. If he can hit .250 and get on base at a 32% clip, hitting double-digit homers, the Yankees will be ecstatic about his contributions.
At the end of the day, the Yankees’ infield is going in the direction of a youth movement, and stopping that progression to save face with Donaldson and justify his egregious contract seems like a step in the wrong direction.
Both Peraza and Volpe should be starting every day for the Yankees, and Torres has substantial value that can’t be overlooked. Trading Gleyber can easily be justified since his value will only decline from here, but moving quality players in favor of bloated contracts and worsening talent feels like malpractice. That is not to say Donaldson won’t be on the roster and able to contribute help in other ways, especially if any of the youngsters struggle or injuries pop up.
Having a veteran that can play third base and assist is certainly not a bad variable.