Back in May, I argued that Gleyber Torres’ defensive miscues and streaky hitting were enough that the Yankees should move on from him.
Today, I think extending him this offseason should be one of the team’s top priorities. In fact, maybe it should be the priority — and not to sign yet another free-agent veteran like Cody Bellinger.
The truth of the matter is that despite every mental mistake in the field or baserunning error, Gleyber Torres’ bat makes them worth it. He’s turned in a solid 2023 even with New York’s season-long struggles at the plate. Torres is batting .271 with a respectable .801 OPS and 121 wRC+.
Furthermore, Torres has finally found a way to balance his natural contact stroke with consistent power. He leads American League second basemen with 25 home runs and fixed his swing to go up the middle more. We can see this in his fly-ball rate (FB%) dropping almost six points, but balancing out evenly between grounders and line drives.
Best of all, Torres’ newfound patience has seen his strikeout rate (K%) drop a full eight points to 14.6%. That ties him with Chicago’s Andrew Benintendi for 11th in the AL!
Now add batting .302 in the second half. How much do we actually care about -4 defensive runs saved (DRS) and -2 outs above average (OAA)?
Torres’ stats are indeed trying to tell us something pretty important. It’s that 2024 is his contract season and he’ll be 27 years old if/when he hits the market. New York already has a crowded infield but should show some urgency in re-signing him.
Why? Because Gleyber Torres has proven himself to be, dare we say it, a premium MLB second baseman. Even if he’s overachieving with his power this year, it’s hard to imagine him regressing to the point of being a payroll albatross. Moneywise, he can probably be kept with a deal similar to DJ LeMahieu: six years at a shade below market value, plus a limited no-trade clause.
But Torres deserves an extension also for reasons beyond the numbers. He’s now a vocal on-field leader. This has been critical for the Yankees with usual infield general Anthony Rizzo out with a concussion. In fact, it was on full display in Tuesday afternoon’s tilt in Boston.
Closer Clay Holmes had walked the bases loaded with the Yankees clinging to a 3-2 lead. Torres, as recounted by MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, trotted to the mound and simply told Holmes, “Use your defense.”
As in, stop trying to blow hitters away and trust the infield to grab that hot power sinker off the ground. One pitch and a double play later, Torres’ message must have landed.
Brian Cashman has to know there’s a way to keep Gleyber Torres, even with LeMahieu attaining 10/5 rights at season’s end. He and Oswald Peraza, plus Oswaldo Cabrera, can share everyday utility duties and spell Torres at second as needed.
What matters is Gleyber Torres still being young and potentially taking this newfound patience at the plate to a rival team. Instead of scouring free agency this winter, Cashman should stay home and reward one of his most loyal soldiers.