The New York Yankees currently have somewhat of a log jam in the infield. Manager Aaron Boone will have to sift through several options to determine what the starting unit will look like in 2023, given general manager Brian Cashman doesn’t offload some of them. Josh Donaldson and his $21 million salary seem like the best candidate for a trade, even if the Yankees are able to retain a portion of his salary.
However, there is one other starting-level infielder that could be moved, Gleyber Torres. At 26 years old, Torres is coming off a bounce-back campaign following two years of questionable play. He hit .257 with a 31% on-base rate, including 24 homers and 76 RBIs. He struck out at 22.6% and walked at 6.8%, posting his highest wRC+ at 115 since 2019.
Defensively, he took a big step forward playing second base. He recorded a .985 fielding percentage over 1082.2 innings, including just seven errors with 47 double plays. He enjoyed nine defensive runs saved above average, the highest mark in his career by a significant margin.
With the infield market thinning following a big free agency class, Torres’s value has increased substantially, making him a prime trade target.
The Yankees are patiently waiting for Anthony Volpe to take a step forward and join the Major League roster this upcoming season, which could de-thrown Torres at second base, leaving him in limbo.
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Three decisions the Yankees can make with Gleyber Torres:
1.) Trade Gleyber now
The Yankees seem to be extremely high on Volpe joining their roster in 2023. With Oswald Peraza expected to take over at shortstop full-time, Volpe would likely slide in at second base alongside him, moving Torres out of his natural position.
Ultimately, it all depends on timing. If Cashman believes Volpe will be ready within the first few weeks of the season, moving Torres now, when his value is at its highest, might be the most efficient move. However, the Yankees are waiting to see how healthy DJ LeMahieu is to start 2023, so keeping Gleyber around as a security blanket isn’t a bad idea.
Nonetheless, if the team wants to cash in on Gleyber now, they could target bullpen support or look to solve left field via trade. For the time being, though, the odds are in favor of Torres sticking around at least until the trade deadline next summer.
2.) Trade Gleyber at the deadline next summer
The more likely scenario is that Volpe requires a few months in Triple-A with Scranton before making the leap. Volpe has gotten better with time over a quick sample size, as he displayed with Somerset last year and his last few games with Scranton. Giving him a few weeks to get his sea legs and then transitioning him to Major League baseball might be the best move for his development and progress.
Keeping Torres until around the deadline would give the Yankees plenty of assurance, especially if Volpe struggles after being called up. Once he’s settled in and feeling confident, Torres becomes expendable, and the Yankees can utilize his value in the bullpen, given expected injuries.
3.) Keep Gleyber outright
One reasonable argument is that the Yankees should simply keep Torres next season. They still have control over him until 2025 at such a ripe age; coming off a solid 2022 season, he is a net positive.
Considering Donaldson doesn’t have a future with the team, who’s to say the Yankees don’t move Peraza to third base, Volpe to shortstop, and keep Gleyber at second base, utilizing DJ LeMahieu in his regular utility role? This would keep DJ relatively healthy by managing his innings and allow the Yankees to utilize their top youth prospects at key positions.
This strategy could be their preference, but it is entirely depending on how they plan to use Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa next season.