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During the offseason, the Yankees thinned out their over-loaded outfield position in order to create easier access to the roster for Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe.
The Yankees named Volpe the starter and never thinned the herd. Instead, Osvaldo Cabrera, Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kenner-Falefa, DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres remain in the majors – Peraza is the Triple-A shortstop.
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Aaron Boone has to be handed the plate for showing off amid the chaos. The versatility of Cabrera, Kiner-Falefa and LeMahieu helps; So Giancarlo Stanton would actually be able to play the outfield even twice a week to allow DH at-bats elsewhere – for example, on Opening Day, Stanton was in right and Torres at DH.
The fragility of Donaldson, LeMahieu and Stanton, in particular, foreshadowed injuries that would generate more at-bats for others and left the Yankees grateful to preserve depth. For now, Kenner-Falefa is the odd-man out, a 26th man who may get playing time as a late running back or some center field play until Harrison Bader is healthy.
But as the season progresses – unless there are too many nagging injuries – the issue of trade will remain. If Volpe really shows that he is a high-level major league shortstop, Peraza becomes an intriguing trade piece. I keep wondering, for example, if the Yankees and Dodgers line up. Los Angeles is deep in prospects, but without a ready-made shortstop after losing Gavin Lux for the season.
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Kenner-Falefa could be traded if a team sees value in a multi-tool piece that can help with the team’s pace. But it doesn’t move the needle much for the Yankees — again, without injury — Kenner-Falefa won’t play much this year and is a free agent after that.
The big question is related to Torres. The Yankees talked to the Marlins at the deadline last year in a trade that would bring back Pablo López. He listened this offseason. They are open to it, but it has complications:
It is not easy to value Torres. He is still just 26 years old, thus entering his prime. His 21–22 season age suggested a star after his 23–24 season comeback as he struggled to become a full-time shortstop. Back last season, he had a season between the two extremes.
In 2022, Torres struck out too often, walked too little, and endured a six-week slump, which coincided with rumors that he might be traded that drove his totals down. Still, he finished with 24 homers, a 114 OPS-plus and 4.1 Wins Above Replacement (Baseball Reference)—better than Corey Seager (3.9) or Cedric Mullins (3.8), for example.
The Yankees will have to worry whether holding a high price will eventually give them no value at all — as is the case with players like Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier. But at the same time they don’t want to underestimate someone who may still be a difference maker.
This would include a gap-maker for the Yankees. There are plenty of candidates who could be the second most productive Yankees hitter after Aaron Judge. Torres is a candidate. As a win-now squad, the Yankees will move him only if they believe it will help them get better in 2023.
Torres is making $9.95 million this year, and a lot of variables could affect how much he’ll make in 2024 (his last before free agency), but a team has to envision at least $13 million .
So unless the Yankees eat money or retaliate a deal by taking back dollars, a acquiring team must budget accordingly.
Furthermore, second basemen are not the kind of starting pitchers or offensive performers without a doubt to inspire strong returns over the course of the year. The closest parallel I could draw was Baltimore dealing Jonathan Scoop at the 2018 deadline—who, like Torres, was 26 and 1¹/₂ years from free agency. The Orioles got an indifferent return.
Thus, the Yankees could simply decide that Torres is worth more to them. This is the most likely scenario. But what if the Yankees think a middle infield of Volpe and Peraza (plus Lemahieu and Cabrera) is the best right now, or they want to use Torres’ money in other ways? Some non-contenders with limited payrolls, such as Oakland and Pittsburgh, may be thrown out whether or not they can use Torres, and so teams at second base, such as Houston (currently injured Jose Altuve) or Texas (Marcus Semien). Can be easy.
I haven’t heard what teams are taking a call yet, but here are three places I could see Torres fitting in (again, this is my assumption, not anything I’m hearing):
They lost first baseman Rhys Hawkins for the season. They could move third baseman Alec Bohm to first, second baseman Bryson Stott to third, and replace Hoskins’ offense with Torres. His manager Rob Thomson knows Torres well from their mutual Yankees days.
Their owner, John Middleton, has voluntarily increased payroll in pursuit of a championship. But Philadelphia could economically balance out a trade by including Scott Kingery in a package. He is owed $9 million between his 2023 salary and the 2024 buyout. Kingery really opened its eyes in the spring. He is not on the 40-man roster, allowing an acquiring team to gain organizational depth without a roster spot.
Seattle was interested in Torres in the offseason but received Kolten Wong. Still, the Mariners seem a bat short as they try to oust the Astros in the AL West. Wong is a lefty-swinger. Torres could play second vs Left and DH otherwise. And, again, if salary balancing is needed, Chris Flexen is making $8 million this year and could be included to provide starting pitching depth for the Yankees.
Other clubs, such as the Giants, could use Torres’ bat. But are they contenders? The White Sox appear to be the more viable contenders in a weak AL Central and are looking to add second base with Elvis Andrus and Romy Gonzalez.
Aaron Bummer, a lefty with a heavy sinker, once looked like Zack Britton 2.0. If the Yankees still think so, would they trade Torres for a package built around Bummer, who has at least two years left at $10.5 million but also club options in 2025 and ’26?
The three most intriguing potential trade fits for Yankees’ Gleyber Torres
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