Yankees could target this underrated infielder at the deadline

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners
Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Every season we see the New York Yankees heavily involved in conversations in the summertime as they’re usually in a contention window. This year, the case will look to remain the same as it was in 2021 and 2022, with this team currently in first place in the American League East. At 28-15, they’re in good standing to make the postseason after missing it entirely in 2023, but their weakest position thus far has been their infield. Anthony Volpe and Anthony Rizzo have been good at shortstop and first base, but Gleyber Torres’ early-season struggles and the uncertainty at third base loom large.

Looking at some projected sellers across the league, the Oakland Athletics are a pretty obvious candidate, and Abraham Toro could be a perfect pickup for the Yankees.

Abraham Toro Could Give the Yankees Infield a Jolt

MLB: Spring Training-Oakland Athletics at Arizona Diamondbacks
Mar 11, 2024; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, Arizona, USA; Oakland Athletics third baseman Abraham Toro (31) throws the ball to first base for an out against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second inning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest surprises that hasn’t been discussed across the league is the progression of Abraham Toro, who was a promising infield prospect with the Houston Astros before being traded to the Seattle Mariners. Things didn’t go well in either destination, and a small stint with the Brewers would result in a few MLB at-bats before he’d find himself on a new team once more. This season we’re seeing massive improvements in quality of contact, as Toro is generating more ideal launch angles with better damage on contact.

Toro ranks in the 94th Percentile in Sweet Spot% (43.6%) while having an above-average .377 xwOBACON (Expected Weighted On-Base Average on Contact) which attempts to measure how well you impact the baseball. Paired with an 80th Percentile Whiff Rate (18.2%) and 55th Percentile SEAGER score, you have a hitter who is above average in a variety of important metrics. The results speak for themselves, sporting a 135 wRC+ and .800 OPS through his first 41 games.

It may seem like I’m suggesting the Yankees find Gleyber Torres’ replacement for 2024, but I still think he has a chance to find it.

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles, gleyber torres
Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Instead, this is a chance for the Yankees to find a stable option in the infield who can then move over to second base when Gleyber Torres becomes a free agent. The Athletics currently have team control over Toro through the 2026 season, and he’s only 27 years old. While his offensive skillset never clicked before this season, he’s always had the talent and tools to become a quality MLB contributor at the Major League level.

Defensively, Abraham Toro is better at third base than second base historically, but he profiles as an average option at both positions. He ranks in the 70th Percentile in Sprint Speed, so there’s plenty of mobility in his profile that can make him a nice weapon on the bases if there is a stolen base opportunity. Still in year one of arbitration, Toro is set to make $1.3 million in 2024, which means his Luxury Tax hit wouldn’t be as massive as other potential additions at the deadline, keeping the team flexible enough to add more pieces.

As a switch-hitter he can help the Yankees in matchups against lefties and righties, profiling well at Yankee Stadium given his ability to pull the ball in the air.

There’s a chance that Abraham Toro can sustain being a strong hitter in the infield, providing a versatile punch to their lineup at positions of need. With his lack of consistency before 2024, his trade value shouldn’t be enormous, but he is still worth a good bit on the market given the fact that he has 2.5 years of control. If the Yankees wanted to make this kind of trade, I think a deal centered around right-hander Clayton Beeter would make sense, given his uncertain command while having a strong arsenal.

Pairing him with a position player like Benjamin Cowles, who has a 161 wRC+ in Double-A and is Rule-5 eligible at the end of the season, could give the Oakland Athletics two cost-controlled players who should be MLB-ready by the time 2025 rolls around. Perhaps it’s a light package, but we won’t get a good idea of what Abraham Toro’s value is until we get closer to the deadline where his stats will likely regress from this point in time. The question is just how far his OPS will fall, but right now, he’s looking like the exact kind of infield bat this team could use.

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