New York Yankees News/Rumors: “Gardy” paved the way for Frazier, Torres on Torres, and more

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

The New York Yankees have their first exhibition game today at 1:05 pm; it will be broadcast on the YES Network. Yankee players are excited to get to the season starter and super happy that there will be fans in the stands at George M. Steinbrenner Field in St Petersburg, Florida. The starter for today’s opening game will be Michael King, who was 1-2 last season, as announced by Yankee manager Aaron Boone on Thursday.

For the first time since March 12 of last year, fans will be allowed in the stands socially spaced. The tickets for today’s game were sold in pods of 2 – 3 and 4 seats. Those pods were sold with six feet between pods. So today, when you watch the game, the stadium will be 28% filled. That’s 3,000 fans in a stadium that normally holds 10,000.

It will be a perfect day for baseball in St. Pete, the weather forecast is for an 80-degree temperature throughout the game. It will be played under bright sunny skies with a few passing clouds, and with a nice light warm breeze from the south.

Gardner has paved the way for Clint Frazier

 

One year ago, Clint Frazier voiced a desire to play in the outfield and take over Brett Gardner’s job.  The New York Yankee’s Brett Gardner has been the veteran presence in both left and center fields, according to who was injured at the time. He has done that for the last eleven years. At the time, Frazier’s statement raised some eyebrows during spring training. Until last year Frazier had little hope of doing that as he mostly sat on the Yankee shuttle between Scranton and the Stadium.

All that changed last year when seemingly out of nowhere Frazier’s defense in the outfield took an amazing turn that eventually earned him a Gold Glove nomination and earned him a starting role in the lineup. One would think that Frazier’s comment a year earlier would not sit well with the veteran Gardner, but the opposite was true; he wanted the young man to succeed. Frazier, for his part, is happy to accept the challenge and even improve over last season.

“I think it starts with how Brett handled a young guy coming in that plays the same position as him and was vocal about wanting to win that job,” Frazier said. “Just how he treated me, he went about it in such a positive way that I felt like it was a big brother-little brother relationship. He’s such a good teammate.”

Over the past several springs, Frazier has tailed Gardner, frequently picking the veteran’s brain during drills and swapping good-natured smack talk. Those exchanges reminded Gardner of his own path toward playing time; he similarly chased Johnny Damon around Bombers camp beginning with his first spring in 2007. Gardner, for his play in 2009, won a World Series ring with the New York Yankees. Gardner has this to say about how last season ended:

“I didn’t want my career to end the way the season ended last year against the Rays,” Gardner said. “I wasn’t able to play in front of any fans all year for the most part, and my family wanted to see me play again. I went into the offseason fully expecting to be playing this season and expected it to be back here. This is where I want to be.”

Now Frazier has the golden opportunity of his career being named the starting left-fielder, it’s his time to shine, and no one is more thankful for Brett Gardner than Frazier himself.

“He’s such a jokester; he’s a little kid,” Frazier said. “I swear, he’s more immature than I am. He’s been a light that is shining really bright for me. I’d selfishly like to have this guy around until he’s like 50, just so I could finish my career with him.”

Gleyber Torres on the upcoming season

All will agree that Gleyber Torres had a very sub-par season last year, bot at shortstop and behind the plate. In 2019 the young shortstop, although not perfect at short, he did lead the team with 38 home runs and a nice batting average. Strangely that all changed in 2020. At one point, he had more errors at short than any other shortstop, and he finished the year hitting only three home runs. Manager Boone commented that Torres got screwed up with two spring training camps and didn’t come into the season ready to play.

Any criticisms from his New York Yankee 2020 season have been tucked away far back in Torre’s mind. It’s a new season, and Torres says it’s a new beginning for him, and he intends to embrace it. The now 24-year-old is coming into the exhibition slate intent upon rewriting his narrative from last year.

“I just want to feel my body really work again and get better and better,” Torres said. “I’ll be ready for the year and prepare myself really well. I’m working hard to be ready to win coming into the spring and the regular season.”

 

 

Yankees’ Gleyber Torres responds to GM Brian Cashman’s ‘out of shape’ comment

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

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.

“I didn’t feel like 100% when I went into the short season but the past is the past,” Torres said on a video call with reporters on Friday. “I’ve passed the page. I just prepare myself right now and I just try to get ready and just play and help my team.”

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 “wasn’t in the best shape” once the revised season began.

“I think he can do both. I think he’s a better second baseman than shortstop,” Cashman said. “I 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 I’m not playing the blame game, but he wasn’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.

New York Yankees: Torres wants to forget last season, Kluber is where he needs to be and more

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

The New York Yankee’s shortstop Gleyber Torres is looking to have as many home runs as in 2019 or more. Torres led the Yankees with 38 home runs in 2019, but 2020 was disappointing for the young shortstop. He hit only three long balls and had an average of just .243, down more than 30 points from the previous season. During this offseason manager, Aaron Boone said Torres was not in shape he should be at the beginning of the season. His performance was lacking in the first part of the season, but he showed improvement when he came back from the IL in his last 18 games.

Now with spring training in full swing, Torres is healthy, strong, and ready to go.

“I still feel [I have] power,’’ Torres said. “I don’t know why I didn’t hit too many homers last year. I’m trying to get stronger and [have more] agility. We’ll see this year if I have the same or more homers than ’19.”

In 2020 Torres struggled mightily both as a shortstop and behind the plate, but he has worked extensively with bench coach Carlos Mendoza on his play at short.

“Look, everybody knows how difficult last year was, especially when we got shut down,’’ said Mendoza, who has worked extensively with Torres at short. “It was so hard to get ready and we didn’t know when we were coming back. Brian made his comments and [Torres] kept saying he felt fine. … This year, he looks really good.”

When he was asked about Fernando Tatis Jr.’s $340 million contract with the San Diego Padres, and if it was a motivation for him, he said, of course, everyone wants to make a lot of money.

Corey Kluber is feeling fine and is in a good place

Corey Kluber is healthy and has taken to the mound a few times in the 2021 spring training. Kluber had some bad luck being hit by a comebacker in 2019 and suffering a shoulder injury in the first inning he pitched for the Texas Rangers. But that is all behind him now that he is with the New York Yankees, and he is performing well in spring training.

Kluber is a two-time Cy Young Award winner and, when healthy, is an ace capable starter for any team. Friday afternoon at George M. Steinbrenner Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, the right-hander pitched two innings to Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, and Luke Voit. Manager Boone, who observed the pitcher tossing, said:

“I feel really good about his progress,” Boone said. “I thought he finished better than he started, and I think the stuff is overall pretty crisp. I’m encouraged where he’s at. We’re sitting here in February, and we’ve got essentially a stud pitcher ramping up for a season.”

Kluber said there is no reason to worry; I am right where I want to be for this time of the season.

“My goal is to hit the ground running on Opening Day,” Kluber said. “It’s no secret that I probably haven’t been at my best early on in the season previously in my career; not that I want to be OK with that. I’m always trying to tweak what I need to feel like it will have been better prepared from the get-go. Every game is important.”

Jameson Taillon will be innings vigilant

The newly added pitcher for the New York Yankees is Jameson Taillon, who was traded for from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is coming back from his second Tommy John surgery and is feeling fine, but he talked about pitching 120 to 150 innings as a goal this season. He said that as spring training progresses, he is open to talking about that.

“We haven’t talked about any given number, but we have talked about communicating and staying vigilant,” Taillon said. “I’m ready to be honest and open about that. I’m sure as Spring Training gets on, we’ll communicate about some sort of rough idea that we have. Right now, I’m feeling really good.”

What to expect this Sunday

This Sunday will be the first exhibition game of spring training. It will be against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Yankees training camp in St. Petersburg, Florida, this Sunday at 1:05 pm. Michael King will be projected to start for the Yankees. Manager Aaron Boone has said it will be a seven-inning affair and indicated the first few games would also be limited to seven innings.

The New York Yankees game will be televised on the YES Network, as will most of the Yankees’ home games in spring training. It’s a shorter Spring Training with modified rules. Specifically, the Yanks will only play the Blue Jays, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, and Tigers. This is for COVID-19 travel-related reasons excluding Florida east coast games. 14 games will be at home and 14 away. The YES Network will carry 14 of those games. MLB Network will carry the opening game on Sunday as well as 13 others. Fox and NBC will carry a few of the games.

 

 

 

Yankees: Gleyber Torres is going to be just fine, according to executives and analysts

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

The 2020 season was weird for several teams and players. For the New York Yankees’ shortstop Gleyber Torres, it marked a significant step back from what he did in 2019 (38 home runs, .278/.337/.535), as he slumped to a .243/.356/.368 line with just three round-trippers.

He started to get going in the playoffs, so we can chalk his slump up to small sample size noise. However, while the increase in OBP was encouraging, the decrease in slugging percentage is concerning for the Yankees. It’s fair to wonder if there is something going on with him.

Another reason behind his iffy performance was poor conditioning and a series of lower-body injuries, most notably in his leg muscles.

SNY talked to several executives around the league (link here) and the overall sentiment is that the Yankees’ infielder will eventually get back on track. “If there was ever a season to look at it like it was a spring training, it was last year,” says an executive from an American League team’s front office. “I don’t buy the notion that anything the players did last year is the same. Be very cautious about that.

“Some of the best role players in the world were really good for 60 games. Gleyber is just too talented, so you write it off. With him, the skill set is the skill set and it’s really good.”

The Yankees’ shortstop had a humbling experience

A National League scout told SNY that he has “absolutely no questions on Gleyber and they’d have to be out of their minds if there are questions about him.”

It appears that the belief around the league is that the Yankees have a keeper at shortstop, even if Torres is unlikely to ever be a great fielder at shortstop.

Another person thinks that Torres can even reap the benefits from last season’s struggles.

“He’s going to be fine,” says Dan O’Dowd, the former Colorado Rockies executive from 1999-2014 and current analyst for MLB Network. “It was a very humbling year. You don’t know how good you can become as an MLB player until you’re humbled.

“He should never have come into [Summer] Camp the way he did — he’s way too talented a player,” he added.

New York Yankees: Why there is hope for a rebound season from Gleyber Torres

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

While some of his teammates on the New York Yankees’ roster had incredible offensive performances, Gleyber Torres’ 2020 season was marred by leg injuries and a complete lack of power, evidenced by his career-low .125 isolated power.

Overall, last campaign was disappointing for Torres. The New York Yankees’ shortstop hit .243/.356/.368 with a .326 wOBA and a 106 wRC+. He was limited by lower-body muscle-related injuries, as he played in only 42 games.

In 160 plate appearances, Torres hit only three home runs, far from the 38 he bopped in 2019, in 604 PA. His defensive performance was also atrocious, with -9 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and -4 Outs Above Average (OAA.)

The good thing is that Gleyber appeared to be regaining his rhythm in the postseason. He slashed .714/.800/1.143 with a homer in a couple of games against Cleveland in the Wild Card Series, and .313/.450/.500 with another dinger in five contests against the Tampa Bay Rays in the Division Series.

The Yankees are banking on a return to form

The Yankees know that, with health and a larger sample size, the Gleyber Torres of 2019 can return. It could potentially be an improved version, too, as Torres made gains in the plate discipline department (13.8 BB%, 17.5 K% in 2020 compared to a 7.9 BB% and a 21.4 K% in 2019.)

He has been training with first baseman Carlos Santana and Seattle Mariners uber-prospect Julio Rodriguez for quite some time now. He seems determined to leave his pedestrian 2020 numbers behind, both on offense.

He will have to improve on offense and on defense, but the Yankees are confident that Gleyber Torres can turn things around.

Amid rumors that the Yankees were going to bring a better defensive shortstop that would force Torres to slide to second base, they ultimately decided to re-sign DJ LeMahieu and leave the infield as it is, with Gio Urshela and Luke Voit handling the corners.

Yankees News: The cold truth about Gleyber Torres at shortstop and what to expect

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

The New York Yankees have a potentially problematic situation at shortstop, as they continue to roll with Gleyber Torres at the position despite his deficiencies in 2020. This past season, Torres made the full-time jump to shortstop, and he struggled considerably on routine plays, which resulted in a .933 fielding percentage.

To put that into perspective, the league average fielding percentage at the position is .973, which tells us everything we need to know about his defensive abilities. Even general manager Brian Cashman indicated that Torres was out of shape and is undeniably a better player at second base. With that being said, the Yankees have no intention of moving him back to his old position, especially after retaining DJ LeMahieu for six more years.

“He’s more than capable of playing short, but I acknowledge he is a better second baseman than a shortstop.”

It does create an interesting narrative, though, as Torres enters his fourth season in the MLB and is likely his last opportunity to prove he can hold down the SS position. If he fails, the Yankees will enter a market flush with talent at the spot in 2021. Players like Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, and more will all be available for the taking.

With the expectation that the MLB will rebound nicely after a tumultuous 2020 season influenced by COVID-19, the Yankees will have the luxury of spending a bit more money. In addition, they will also have a few contracts coming off the books, which will allow a bit more financial freedom.

The unfortunate truth surrounding Torres is that he isn’t a good shortstop defensively, and having a down season offensively only compounded the negatives. Despite hitting .243 over 160 plate appearances, Gleyber is considered one of the best offensive weapons on the team, and at 24 years old, he has the potential to be a staple in the lineup for years to come. However, the Yankees need to find him a spot in the infield, which could mean they move LeMahieu to first base in the future, which might force a Luke Voit trade.

The 2021 season is really Torres’s last opportunity to show he can do at SS, but signing LeMahieu on such a long-term deal is an indicator of what the Yankees have plans for his future. Voit, who is extremely valuable at the moment, given his slugging abilities, could only increase his value as a potential trade option in the future. The plan that Cashman has put in place is quite interesting, as it could result in one of the three players changing positions and either Voit or Torres being traded.

New York Yankees: Interview, “Mad Dog” grills Aaron Boone on the offseason

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

Recently the “Mad Dog” (Christopher Russo) grilled New York Yankee manager Aaron Boone on his TV program Mad Dog Unleashed. Boone responded to questions about the offseason and the season ahead. It was a long interview, so I will summarize rather than give you many direct quotes.

Russo started with the offseason’s hot topic, the signing of DJ LeMahieu; he talked about the six-year signing and how Boone felt about it. Boone responded that it’s no secret what he has meant to the Yankees for the last two years; he has probably been the American League MVP during those years. Boone continued that DJ has shown that he loves New York, he loves playing here, and he is essential to the team. He drives the culture and is so important, leading off and with his defensive versatility. He is in the mold now, and he will finish his career as a Yankee. He’s a leader, and all the players gravitate to him.

Russo talking about Gleyber Torres and suggested that he had defensive challengers but appeared to be the Yankee’s shortstop for the future. Boone did not vocalize his agreement but shook his head in agreement. He has the ability; I think the biggest thing with Gleyber is he has to find that consistency. Boone said that shortstop is a demanding position, and you have to be excellent at the fundamentals. He reiterated that you have to be able to handle the routine plays over and over again. They briefly discussed Torres not being ready last season. Boone said he came into spring training ready, but he messed up a bit before summer camp and had to play catchup without the knowledge that there would be a season. Overall, Boone’s comments did not assure that Torres would be their future, but what he had to do to improve. They did not talk about his poor performance behind the plate.

The Mad Dog talked about how Corey Kluber could be a great pitcher for the Yankees, but with October in mind, how will you handle that? Responding, Boone said he’s healthy we feel he is in a good place, and we have reasons to be optimistic. Most of the injuries he has had are not the typical pitcher injuries that you worry about. Last year we got to see some of our younger players, and now bringing in Kluber, bringing in Taillon to add to that. Boone also told how he could protect pitchers with all the depth that the Yankees have. The discussion migrated to be more about the young pitchers and how they have advanced than about Kluber.

Russo did discuss the New York Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman and basically how he has blown the postseason the past two years and if Boone still had confidence in him? How does Aaron Boone help get Chapman’s confidence back and his ora in the ninth inning? Boone said I’m not worried about “Chappy’s” psyche or his ability to bounce back. “I have zero concern about that.” I think he is as good as ever, and he has now developed a split-finger fastball that I think will become an important pitch for him, especially as he ages and doesn’t have the 105 mph fastball. He is still a dominant dynamic closer that got caught a couple of times. He is going to be on the mound for the New York Yankees when we hopefully win a championship.

Russo intimated that Boone had to know this question was coming. Why do you think Gary Sanchez would be any better this year than in the last few years? I’m not asking that he be a Johnny Bench, but he should hit .250 and get 25 homers. Do you think he can do that? Boone responded that he certainly could do it. We’ve given him the confidence of our support, and we feel with him we have the best chance at a championship. Obviously, there were issues with him last season, and he had a tough year. We still feel he has the ability to be excellent on both sides of the ball. I’m excited about his offseason and where he is now. Boone indicated that Sanchez is going to be our number one starting catcher.  He did not mention if he would catch for ace Gerrit Cole.

Boone also mentioned regarding Sanchez that last season Kyle Higashioka was pushing his way into the picture by hitting well and being a great defensive catcher. And as the season progressed, he was also showing power, and that entered into the equation. But Boone reiterated that he expected Gary Sanchez to be an All-Star catcher this season.

Fans will find it interested that Russo brought up the issue of Game two and having Deivi Garcia start the game. He asked if he wished he had left him in for a few more innings even though he gave up that home run? Boone smiled and struggled for words. Boone pointed out that Happ was totally aware that he might come in early in the game, saying that they talked about it for days. Boone admitted that it didn’t work out, but he also said he doesn’t know that the alternative would have worked. Moving away from that, Boone said with all their (Rays) lefties and switch hitters, they did an excellent job matching up with us. He went on to say that the Rays have done an excellent job in the last few years building their roster. We tried to match up, but it didn’t work out for the New York Yankees, and it doesn’t work out for 29 other teams each year.

They spoke briefly about Masahiro Tanaka, his successes and failures. Boone made it clear that he considered having Tanaka pitch for the New York Yankees was “a privilege.” He said as far as the culture was concerned, he had a lot of good players and good people and that Tanaka was at the head of that list. He was competitive and a joy to be around. I really like watching him. He talked about his unique personality and humor and that he was going to miss him.

In an almost humorous exchange, the dog referred to his friendship with A.J Hinch (the Astros manager in 2017). He asked if that have talked. Boone said that he had and still considered him a friend and has put 2017 behind him. He indicated that they had had a long conversation about things last spring. He is someone I’ll continue to talk to. I will look forward now to facing up against him now that he is the Detroit Tigers manager.

Even with all the pointed questions that Russo asked, Boone seemed to be happy to answer them and was very upbeat on the coming season. Curiously no mention was made about Brett Gardner and if he will be with the team in 2021.

 

New York Yankees: Loose odds and ends of interest to Yankee fans (video)

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

There are days that there are no big New York Yankee stories to report on, but there is always news that might be of interest to those same fans. Some involve the Yankees directly, and some others are just interesting stories that show up on the web. Here are a few of those stories.

Mets general manager fired over lued behavior

The New York Mets have recently learned sexual behavior issues with their just hired general manager Jared Porter. He allegedly harassed a young female journalist while Vice President of the Chicago Cubs. Apparently, something was missing in the Met’s vetting of their new GM. According to an ESPN report, the women received over 60 unsolicited text messages from Porter, even a photo of a penis. Porter has admitted to his behavior, and Steve Cohen, the Met’s owner, immediately fired him this morning.

ESPN re-hires ex-Yankee star Alex Rodriquez

ESPN has announced that Yankee star Alex Rodriquez will again announce and provide commentary for the Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN presented by Taco Bell. The press release also had Buster Olney and Matt Vesgersian at his side.  This will be Rodriguez’s 4th year with Sunday night baseball. He is a 14-time MLB All-Star and three-time American League MVP, made his regular-season ESPN broadcast debut on Opening Night in 2018. Half of Yankee fans have no use for Rodriguez and the other half like listening to his vast knowledge of the game.

Yankees could target Kirby Yates, but what about the Jays?

Kirby Yates would be the perfect reliever for the New York Yankees to fill the hole caused by the departing Tommy kahnle, who recently signed a two-year contract with the Dodgers. But the Yankees are not the only team looking at Yates. The Yankees have missed several top relievers while they waited for DJ LeMahieu to sign with the team. They may lose another option. Yates, according to John Heyman, is in Dunedin, Florida today, the Jays training site. Again, looks good for them to get the star reliever. Yates underwent surgery in August to remove bone chips from his right elbow.

Will DJ LeMahieu contribute for six years?

The Yankees originally wanted to sign DJ LeMahieu to a three years contract. Still, after two months of negotiations that seemed to be going nowhere, they ended up signing him to a money-saving six-year contract. But the deal worked for both parties, a low annual cost for the Yankees and DJ, security for six years until he will probably retire. The question is can DJ continue to perform as he has for the last two years with the Yankees deep into his contract? The answer to that is probably not. But with LeMahieu’s good injury record his easy play, he sure can repeat several years in and even in his fifth and sixth year compete at a satisfactory level. Even at 32, he not only shows no decline but seems to get only better with age.

These Yankee players are avoiding arbitration.

Several New York Yankee players avoided arbitration last week by accepting small raises and a non-guaranteed one year deal. Included in those that accepted were the Yankee slugger Aaron Judge who will earn $10.175 million this year, Gary Sanchez, $6.35 million, Gleyber Torres, $4 million, Gio Urshela settled for $4.65  million, Luke Voit will get $4.7 million, Jordan Mongomery agreed to $2.5 million, Clint Frazier at $2.1 million, and Chad Green signed a one year $2.15 million contract. Ben Heller and Luis Cessa signed earlier before the deadline.

The Yankees trade for Luis Castillo is pretty well dead

The Cincinnati Reds overstepped in their negotiations to trade Luis Castillo to the Yankees by demanding that Gleyber Torres and a few other prospects would put the star reliever in pinstripes, but the Yankees said flatly NO. No way they will trade away their shortstop. With the Red’s demand for Torres, that pretty much makes any deal for the reliever dead in the water.

Gleyber Torres will be ready for the 2021 season

The New York Yankees have reported that Gleyber Torres was not ready to start the season as the 2020 season started, and it took him half the season to be where he should have been at the beginning of the season. Manager Boone stated that he screwed up his preparation between the spring training cut short and the beginning of summer camp. He also said that Torres is preparing and will be ready for this upcoming season. Torres was recently seen working out with fellow 2019 American League All-Star first baseman and catcher with the Indians Carlos Santana.

 

 

 

 

 

New York Yankees Analysis: It’s time for Yankee fans to believe Gleyber Torres as the Yankee shortstop

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

For the past two years, the New York Yankees shortstop has been the center of conversation as the new Yankee shortstop. Should we trade him? Can he be a replacement for Didi Gregorius? Will he be the shortstop of the future? All those questions have circulated. Earlier in this offseason, the Yankees made it pretty well known that he would remain short or moved to second base, but it was also made clear that he wasn’t going anywhere.

This past week he was the center of attention with the New York Yankees trying to trade with the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds considered a deal that demanded that Gleyber Torres would be included in the trade. No matter how bad the Yankees wanted Luis Castillo on their pitching team, there was no way they would include Torres. They flatly said NO. This is just another indication that Gleyber Torres is their man, no matter where he plays. He is just too talented.

Yes, he needs defensive improvement, and yes, he had a down season like many players in the ugly 2020 shortened season. The Yankees’ bottom line is that they believe he can be a star player for the Yankees considering his development and his team-leading 38 homers in 2019.

Gleyber Torres made his major league debut on April 22, 2018, against the Blue Jays but went hitless. The next day he got his first hit off the Twins. On May 4th, he recorded his first home run. The youngest Yankee to do so since 1969. In 2018 after batting .297 with fifteen home runs, he was selected to the All-Star team. He was named AL player of the week twice. For his sophomore season, on April 4, 2019, Gleyber Torres became the fourth-youngest Yankee with four hits and three extra-base hits in a game since Joe DiMaggio did it in 1936.

On June 29, 2019, he hit the 38th home run of his short career. On August 2nd, he hit his second Grand Slam. To end his 2019 campaign, he batted .278 and led the New York Yankees with 38 home runs with 90 runs batted in. In his two years in the majors, he has been a New York Yankees All-Star twice and has received an MVP nomination. He finished the 2019 campaign he ended with 62 home runs for his three-year career and 167 RBIs.

Like many players for several unknown reasons, Torres had a pretty lousy season. At one time, he led the league in errors at short, and his hitting was off all season as he reportedly was not ready for the season when it started after a stop and start training period. After 38 home runs in 2019 in the short season, he hit only three. The Yankees feel and hope this was just an anomaly, and he will return to form this season. Yankee manager Aaron Boone said that Torres would be ready to play after the misstep last season at a high level to begin the season.

New York Yankees Analysis: Is there an heir apparent for Gleyber Torres?

There are four big stories in an offseason for the New York Yankees that has been filled with inaction. One is hardly a secret; the Yankees have put all moves to improve the team for the 2021 season while they wait out negotiations with second baseman and batting champ DJ LeMahieu. The team wants a contract for three years, and DJ wants the security of a five-year contract. Meanwhile, the Yankee’s need for pitching both starting and in the bullpen sits awaiting action. The Yankees have pretty well decided that Gary Sanchez will again be their starting catcher when they awarded him a contract for the season. But today, we talk about that fourth need, an upgrade at shortstop.

Like Sanchez, the Yankees seem to be going with Gleyber Torres again at shortstop. They feel he can bounce back from a subpar hitting season and return to form. However, on the defensive end, they are most hopeful he can improve. The reality is that the Yankees do not see Torres as their long term answer that Derek Jeter was. Torres just doesn’t get to the ball fast enough, and his throwing arm from short has not been as accurate as it needs to be.

The Yankees were very interested in obtaining Francisco Lindor, baseball’s best shortstop. However, with their desire to stay below the luxury tax threshold, they didn’t feel comfortable parting with too many assets in a trade; meanwhile, the crosstown New York Mets, flush with money from new owner Steve Cohen swooped up both Lindor and pitching veteran right-hander Carlos Carrasco. The Yankees still have an interest in Andrelton Simmon, also a highly rated shortstop. But here again, that acquisition likely won’t happen if the Yankees sign LeMahieu.

Although fans will probably not see a change at short this season, there is hope for the future. Sitting in the minors is one of the best up and coming shortstops out there. His name is Oswald Peraza. He could be the Yankee’s long-term solution for the shortstop of the future. MLB.com list Peraza as the New York Yankees number four prospect. But they also list him as their choice for the Yankees break out prospect in 2021.

The Yankees signed the then 17-year-old Venezualan after the 2016 season for $175K as an international free agent. He has worked his way up through the New York Yankee’s minor league system ending up in Charleston with the River Dogs in 2019. His pluses are that he is Tyler Wade fast on the basepaths, has good bat speed, and is an excellent defender at short with an accurate arm. He ended the 2019 season with two teams hitting .263 while stealing 23 bases in just 65 games.  Now at age 20, he is still developing and getting stronger. He will likely spend the 2021 season with the Somerset Patriots, just a two-hour drive from Scranton Wilkes/Barre, where he will probably end up.  The Yankees protected him from the Rule 5 draft this year, adding him to the 40 man roster.

There were no Minor League games due to COVID-19 in. However, Peraza played winter ball in Venezuela for the Cardenales de Lara. He played in six games, hitting .250 with a .713 OPS.

Peraza probably won’t see any action at Yankee Stadium during the 2021 season, but if he continues to advance like he has, he could have an impact during the 2022 season when he will still only be 22 years old. Scouts see Peraza’s hitting ability improve as he is seeing the ball better and not striking out as frequently. Make no mistake; he is still developing but could very well be an impact player for the Yankees for many years to come.