New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres has helped the franchise contend for the World Series in five of his six seasons in the Bronx. With a top-heavy free agent class heading into 2024, should New York unload the infielder to upgrade or clear cap space for an elite talent on the open market?
Evaluating the Yankees’ Depth at 2B
Though Torres floats between 2B and SS, he’s played 142 of his 155 games at the center of the diamond. New York has a cast of young talent at shortstop, and 2022 Gold Glove winner DJ Lemahieu floats between first and third base, though he’s only seen 32 of his 486 at-bats in Torres’ stead.
The Yankees also have Wilmer Difo, who shares the position, but he’s yet to suit up for the Yankees and has only played in 119 games in his two seasons prior with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks.
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The Trade Block
Cincinnati Reds 2B Jonathan India has been mentioned among trade candidates. Cincinnati opted not to move India at the Aug. 1 trade deadline, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be dealt heading into next Spring.
India only has 11 fewer home runs and nine fewer stolen bases in well over 200 fewer at-bats than Torres. However, his $760,000 yearly salary would require another marquee player contract to narrow the $9 million difference while shedding some money off the books for the team.
Looking for a New Home in 2024
The upcoming free-agent pool at second base is thin. The most notable name on the market is Kolten Wong. The former two-time Gold Glove winner delivers as an upper-echelon fielder, though his offensive output pales in comparison to Torres. Bleacher Report ranked Wong only four spots lower than Torres on their position rankings earlier this year.
Jorge Polanco is a comparable option that the Yankees could make a play for. Having a club option of $10.5 million, the salaries match. Over 40 percent of Polanco’s hits this season have been doubles or better, though he’s posted a 1.2 WAR in fewer plate appearances than his two prior seasons.
Both have tangibles that give and take from what Torres brings to the table but are the best options in free agency and in a potential trade.
Verdict: Stick With Torres
The downside to not having an expensive contract is that most of the top talent that could be had in the trade market would require general manager Brian Cashman to cough up additional players to make a deal work.
Torres has been very valuable in his tenure with the team and still has room to improve.
Monetarily, New York is well over the luxury tax threshold yet again, with an estimated $30.7 million tax bill headed their way, despite being the biggest market in the MLB. The risk-reward of shedding less than $9 million at best in favor of Torres’ talent is not an enticing enough grab to relinquish the 26-year-old former All-Star.
Though improbable, it would behoove the Yankees to do everything in their power to attempt to make a play for RHP Shohei Ohtani and give Aaron Judge another prime MVP-caliber teammate to avoid another near departure when his next contract expires, as all signs point to Judge being at the top of his game for the foreseeable future with an American League that has yet to be conquered. Other moves could be made elsewhere to make that shot-in-the-dark play a reality.