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NY Post
New York Post
1 Apr 2023


NextImg:The three most intriguing potential trade fits for Yankees’ Gleyber Torres

Throughout the offseason, questions loomed if the Yankees would thin their overstuffed infield situation 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, Oswaldo Cabrera, Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres remain in the majors — Peraza is the Triple-A shortstop.

Aaron Boone will have to delegate plate appearances amid the clutter. The versatility of Cabrera, Kiner-Falefa and LeMahieu helps; so would Giancarlo Stanton actually being able to play the outfield even two times a week to allow DH at-bats elsewhere — on Opening Day, for example, Stanton was in right and Torres at DH.

The fragility of Donaldson, LeMahieu and Stanton, in particular, foreshadows injuries that will generate more at-bats for others and make the Yankees thankful of preserving the depth. For now, Kiner-Falefa is the odd-man out, a 26th man whose playing time might be about pinch-running late or playing some center field until Harrison Bader is healthy.

But as the season progresses — unless there are multiple dire injuries — the trade issue will linger. If Volpe really does show he is a high-level major league shortstop, then Peraza becomes more of 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.

Gleyber Torres celebrates his home run on Opening Day.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Kiner-Falefa could be traded if a team saw value in a multi-tool piece who could help with team speed. But that doesn’t move the needle much for the Yankees since — again, without injuries — Kiner-Falefa will not be playing much this year and is a free agent after it.

The bigger question involves Torres. The Yankees talked to the Marlins at the deadline last year in a trade that would have brought back Pablo Lopez. They listened this offseason. They are open to it, but there are complications:

Valuing Torres is not easy. He is still just 26, thus entering his prime. His age 21-22 seasons suggested a star followed by age 23-24 seasons in which he regressed as he struggled to be a full-time shortstop. Back at second 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 coinciding at the outset with rumors he might be traded that depressed his overall numbers. Still, he finished with 24 homers, a 114 OPS-plus and 4.1 Wins Above Replacement (Baseball Reference) — better than, for example, Corey Seager (3.9) or Cedric Mullins (3.8).

The Yankees have to worry if by holding a high value they will get ultimately no value at all — like in the cases of players such as Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier. But also they don’t want to undersell someone who might yet still be a difference-maker.

That would include a difference-maker for the Yankees. After Aaron Judge there are a lot of candidates of who might be the second-most productive Yankees hitter. Torres is a candidate. As a win-now squad, the Yankees only would move him if they believed it facilitated getting better in 2023.

Torres is making $9.95 million this year, and a lot of variables could impact how much he will make in 2024 (his last before free agency), but a team would have to envision at least $13 million.

    So unless the Yankees either eat money or counteract a deal by taking back dollars, an acquiring team has to be willing to budget accordingly.

    Plus, second basemen are not like starting pitchers or no-doubt offensive performers when it comes to motivating strong returns during the year. The closest recent parallel I could find was Baltimore at the 2018 deadline dealing Jonathan Schoop — who, like Torres, was 26 and 1 ¹/₂ years from free agency. The Orioles received an uninspiring return.

    Thus, the Yankees could just decide Torres is more valuable to them. It is the most likely scenario. But what if the Yankees think a middle infield of Volpe and Peraza (plus LeMahieu and Cabrera) is best now, or they want to use Torres’ money in other ways? Certain non-contenders with limited payrolls such as Oakland and Pittsburgh can be tossed out whether they could use Torres or not, and so could teams comfortable at second base such as Houston (the currently injured Jose Altuve) or Texas (Marcus Semien).

    Yankees

    Gleyber Torres celebrates his home run with this Yankees teammates.
    Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

    I have not heard if teams are even still calling, but here are three places I can see Torres fitting (again, this is my perception, not anything I am hearing):

    They have lost first baseman Rhys Hoskins for the season. They could move third baseman Alec Bohm to first, second baseman Bryson Stott to third and replace Hoskins’ offense with Torres. Their manager Rob Thomson knows Torres well from their mutual Yankees days.

    Their owner, John Middleton, has willingly increased payroll to chase a championship. But Philadelphia could financially balance a trade by including Scott Kingery in a package. He is owed $9 million between 2023 salary and a 2024 buyout. Kingery actually re-opened eyes in spring. He is not on the 40-man roster, allowing an acquiring team to gain organizational depth without committing a roster spot.

    Seattle was interested in Torres in the offseason but obtained Kolten Wong. Still, the Mariners seem a bat short as they try to unseat the Astros in the AL West. Wong is a lefty-swinger. Torres could play second vs. lefties and DH otherwise. And, again, if a salary balance were 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, in the weaker AL Central, seem more viable contenders and are trying to plug second base with Elvis Andrus and Romy Gonzalez.

    Aaron Bummer, a lefty with a heavy sinker, once looked to be Zack Britton 2.0. If the Yankees still think that, would they do Torres for a package built around Bummer, who has at least two years at $10.5 million left but also has club options in 2025 and ‘26?