As the MLB trade deadline approaches in a few months, the New York Yankees should be deliberating their approach toward starting infielder Gleyber Torres.
Torres rebounded impressively in the 2022 season, delivering a .257 batting average with a .310 OBP, 24 home runs, and 76 RBIs over 140 games. He ended the season with a 22.6% strikeout rate and a 6.8% walk rate, yielding a 115 wRC+.
Expectations were high for an even better 2023, and Torres seems to be fulfilling these hopes.
Over 49 games, Torres boasts a .264 batting average with a .351 OBP, nine home runs, and 25 RBIs, along with five stolen bases. His strikeout rate has markedly fallen to 12.9%, and his walk rate, at 12.1%, is the highest since the COVID-shortened season. The Yankees’ 2nd baseman smacked two homers on Wednesday night against the Baltimore Orioles.
Torres is projected to hit 29 home runs this year, which would be his highest total since 2019, when he hit 38.
Evidently, Torres contributes positively to the team’s offense but has encountered some defensive difficulties this season after an outstanding 2022 performance at second base.
Over 368.2 innings, Torres records a .982 fielding percentage with three allowed errors. His -2 defensive runs saved and -1 out above average imply he’s been marginally below par at the MLB level.
Although it wouldn’t be surprising if Torres improved these figures and ended up having a slightly above-average season defensively, his true impact is felt in the batter’s box.
The Yankees need to leverage Gleyber Torres now or commit:
The dilemma for the Yankees is whether they see him as a long-term asset or a trade option at this year’s deadline.
With Oswald Peraza currently idle in Triple-A, many speculate that he will be used as a trade asset rather than a permanent solution in the infield. This insinuates that Torres has a long-term place in the Yankees lineup, possibly securing a higher-end deal akin to Marcus Semien’s.
Semien, who signed a seven-year, $175 million contract with the Texas Rangers, commands an average yearly salary of $25 million.
Torres’s price tag could be steep but given that he doesn’t play shortstop, a lesser contract might be more likely. He might secure a deal akin to Ketel Marte’s five-year, $76 million contract, which would award him an average annual salary of $15.2 million.
While this is substantially less than Semien’s earnings, it aligns more closely with Torres’s fluctuating productivity. Ultimately, it hinges on how the Yankees perceive him: as a reliable starter capable of solidifying a middle infield position or as a player whose performance wavers despite moments of brilliance.
Torres is widely regarded as a top-five second baseman in the game, hence his significant value, despite his relatively modest $10 million salary this season to avoid arbitration.
The Yankees have one more year of control over Torres before he becomes a free agent in 2025, suggesting they could make him play without an extension next season. However, capitalizing on his current value may be a more strategic move.
Ultimately, Torres seeks stability and might enhance his performance if the Yankees demonstrate their commitment to him.
Additionally, it’s crucial to remember that the Yankees require starting pitching reinforcements, and Torres could be instrumental in implementing this strategy.