The New York Yankees are rolling into the 2021 season with Gleyber Torres as their expected starting shortstop, despite general manager Brian Cashman indicating that he is, in fact, a better second baseman. The Yankees retained DJ LeMahieu on a long-term deal, which will leave Torres at SS and LeMahieu 2B.
The question remains, can Torres be the long-term solution there or will they have to allocate resources during a flush-SS market in 2022. Best case scenario, Torres locks down the position and takes a massive defensive jump, which is entirely possible, considering how far Clint Frazier has come defensively in the outfield, it is not crazy to think that Torres can do the same.
The Yankees are expecting more out of Torres at SS:
Torres is confident he’s entering the 2021 season with a far better mindset and is physically prepared. He has flipped the page on the 2020 season, where he struggled offensively and failed to make routine plays at shortstop. While he does inflict damage with his bat, if he can’t hold down the most important defensive position in the infield, the Yankees will be in trouble moving forward.
â€œI didnâ€™t feel like 100% when I went into the short season but the past is the past,â€ Torres said on a video call with reportersÂ on Friday. â€œIâ€™ve passed the page. I just prepare myself right now and I just try to get ready and just play and help my team.â€
Torres also gave his reasoning for struggling last year, and it is justifiable given the circumstances of a reconstructed season and spring training that was cut significantly short.
“I didn’t feel well in the first half of the season because of covid and things like that, but after my injury I felt [good] and I fixed little things that I didn’t fix in the first half of the season,” Torres said.
Several months ago, Cashman told the YES Network that Gleyber â€œwasnâ€™t in the best shapeâ€ once the revised season began.
â€œI think he can do both. I think heâ€™s a better second baseman than shortstop,â€ Cashman said. â€œI think that he can play shortstop. I think that ultimately he struggled in the beginning of the pandemic 60-game season because after spring training one shut down into spring training two, he did not, and Iâ€™m not playing the blame game, but he wasnâ€™t in the best shape to start the second spring training, so upon his return from the shutdown, we spent a little bit of the first half playing catch-up. Maybe it was the first 40 or 45 games of the season playing catch-up.
Cashman didn’t necessarily need to add that Torres is a better second baseman, demoralizing his spirits and all the work he’s put in toward improving his skill set. Torres didn’t seem to be phased, responding to the criticism with ease.
“The past is the past. … I can’t control what people say,” Torres said. He also mentnioned he doesn’t think the comment needs to be addressed.
Torres did struggle at SS regardless of Brian’s comments — he finished with a .933 fielding percentage at the position when the league average is 973. He needs to take a big step forward this spring if he wants to cement his position on the team.