Yankees’ struggling infielder finally shows signs of life

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays, gleyber torres
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have been eagerly waiting for infielder Gleyber Torres to regain his form during a crucial contract year. The 27-year-old, in his final year of arbitration, is earning $14.2 million with the expectation of significantly increasing his salary after what was hoped to be a standout season.

Following his 2023 campaign, where he hit .273 with a .347 OBP, .453 slugging percentage, 25 homers, and 68 RBIs, resulting in a 123 wRC+, Torres appeared poised to command a substantial free agent contract, potentially ranking him among the top five second basemen in baseball.

Unfortunately, the 2024 season has not been kind to Torres, who has markedly struggled, batting just .208/.289/.273 with only two homers and 10 RBIs. His strikeout rate has surged by 9% to 23.6%, his walk rate has hovered around 9.2%, and his wRC+ has plummeted to 69, indicating he is performing 31% below the average MLB hitter.

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals
Sep 30, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (25) hits an RBI single against the Kansas City Royals during the sixth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are Seeing Signs of Revival

Despite these challenges, Torres showed signs of resurgence in Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. In a critical moment, he hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning, driving the ball 395 feet to left center field, which extended the Yankees’ lead to 9–5. This homer, driving in Trent Grisham and Anthony Rizzo, provided a crucial cushion after the Rays had narrowed the gap.

Torres’s struggles this season seem largely rooted in confidence rather than fundamental flaws or regression. However, his hard-hit rate has dipped to a career-low of 30.4%, and his barrel rate is the lowest since 2020 at 4.3%. His exit velocities are generally below average compared to his career norms, and his maximum exit velocity has decreased, suggesting a loss of power or difficulty in making quality contact, as evidenced by his poor barrel percentages.

Historically effective with runners in scoring position, Torres has only managed a .176 average and .275 OBP in these scenarios this year, although his recent home run with runners on base offers a glimmer of hope.

Torres has expressed a strong desire to remain with the Yankees, referring to the team as “family,” despite being mentioned in trade discussions by General Manager Brian Cashman over the years. If he is unable to secure a performance-based lucrative deal, he may need to consider a more team-friendly contract if he wishes to stay with the Yankees beyond 2024, especially as the team considers making a significant financial commitment to star player Juan Soto.

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