Yankees should trade valuable infielder to Seattle, per MLB Insider

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are primarily focused on adding star-level talent to the roster. While most believe that parting ways with one of their key offensive players would be a net negative, one MLB insider floated the idea of moving the Yankees’ starting second baseman to the Seattle Mariners.

At 26 years old, former All-Star infielder Gleyber Torres is coming off a solid 2023 season, stamping himself as one of the best hitters on the team. In fact, aside from Aaron Judge, there may not have been a more consistent player than Torres this past season.

Across 158 games, Torres hit 273 with a .347 OBP and a .453 slugging rate, including 25 homers, 68 RBIs, a 14.6% strikeout rate, a 10% walk rate, and 123 wRC+. This was his best campaign since 2019 when he hit 38 homers and collected 3.6 WAR.

mlb: new york yankees at kansas city royals, gleyber torres
Sep 30, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (25) is interviewed after defeating the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

However, Torres is entering the final year of arbitration and has an estimated salary of $15 million. General manager Brian Cashman should be heavily considering an extension for Torres, but leveraging his value now for a cost-controlled prospect may be a worthwhile consideration.

Torres has been involved in trade talks for the better part of a year, and the Mariners have been consistently connected, dating back to Luis Castillo during last year’s deadline.

This time around, ESPN insider Kiley McDaniel believes that Cashman should consider moving Torres in exchange for top-flight pitching prospect Emerson Hancock.

“Once free agent third baseman Matt Chapman and Jeimer Candelario come off the board, it’s just role players and bounce-back types left, so the market for Torres should heat up. I’d think Seattle is at the front of that line if it doesn’t sign either of those free agents, and trading righty Emerson Hancock should get the deal done.”

Hancock is a 24-year-old prospect who is ready to make the jump to the MLB full-time. He skipped over Double-A after posting a 4.32 ERA across 98 innings with Seattle’s minor league affiliate. Over 12 innings in the MLB last season, he posted a 4.50 ERA but saw his strikeout rate drop 50%, maintaining an elevated ground-ball rate at 47.5%. Hancock has upper 90s velocity and a tremendous slider, two variables the Yankees tend to prefer.

Hancock has minimal service time accumulated and three minor-league options, giving the Yankees a high-upside pitcher who would easily become one of their best prospects. Even if they don’t want to utilize Hancock in their own rotation, they could consider flipping him in a prospective deal for Juan Soto, keeping some of their homegrown talents like Chase Hampton, Clarke Schmidt, and Drew Thorpe.

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The Yankees Would Have to Solve Second Base

Of course, this would create an opening at second base the Yankees would have to solve, but they have a few options to consider. Oswald Peraza is expected to become a more prominent piece in the future. The Yankees still have DJ LeMahieu under contract, who put together a solid second half of the 2023 season.

At 35 years old, LeMahieu will be a free agent in 2027. Pre All-Star break, the veteran utility man hit .220 with a .285 and .273 with a .377 OBP post-All-Star break. It is safe to say that DJ has plenty of value and remains an above-average defensive infielder.

The Yankees could simply utilize Peraza at third base and LeMahieu at second base in this scenario (or vice-versa), but losing Torres would be a significant loss. They would have to find another quality hitter to add to the mix, which is easier said than done. The Yankees know what they have in Torres, and they should hang onto him for the future, not just the 2024 season.