The Yankees have a lot of interesting decisions ahead of them this offseason. DJ LeMahieu is a free agent, and I think I speak for the entire fanbase when I say we will riot if he’s not re-signed. However, while nearly all Yankee fans in agreement DJ should be back, whether or not Gleyber Torres remains at shortstop is a less agreed upon subject.
An All-Star in his first two big league seasons, Gleyber had a disappointing 2020. He hit just .243 with 3 homers and a .724 OPS, a sharp drop-off from his 2019 production. Torres also missed a few weeks with strains to his quad and hamstring. On top of that, he looked extremely shaky at shortstop. Torres had 9 errors and posted a -9 defensive runs saved in his first season as the Yankees’ starting shortstop. No way around it, he was bad defensively.
Despite everything I just said, if I was allowed to pick just one position player the Yankees could keep long-term, it would be Gleyber Torres. Here’s why.
He’s still young
Had to start off with the obvious. And yeah I get it, he’s not THAT young anymore. Players such as Ronald Acuna jr., Juan Soto, and Fernando Tatis jr. are all younger and better than Torres. But Gleyber is going into his age 24 season. He definitely still has his best years ahead of him.
He can improve in the field
No, I’m not saying he can turn into Andrelton Simmons defensively. But I’m not ready to give up on Gleyber at shortstop completely based off of 40 bad games. Torres played at second base his first two seasons while Didi Gregorius played at shortstop. After Didi left, Gleyber’s preparation to take his spot looked something like this: three weeks of spring training, four month hiatus due to the pandemic, two weeks of summer camp. Is that an excuse for how bad he was? No, but I don’t think it’s crazy to say that Gleyber can become a competent shortstop in 2021.
Even if he doesn’t, the kid can hit
If it’s ultimately decided that Gleyber can’t play shortstop, you find a spot for him. Second base, third base, outfield for all I care. He had 38 homers and an .871 OPS in his age 22 season. That’ll play moving forward. Just like I said I’m not going to completely give up on him as a shortstop after 40 games, I’m also not reading too much into a down 40 games at the plate.
He’s built for the moment
We’ve seen Torres come up big a few times in October. He had a 5-RBI performance in ALCS Game 1 in 2019, and hit a huge homer in Game 4 against the Rays in 2020.
Not only has he shown flashes of postseason greatness, he truly wants to be great. Torres isn’t just looking to put up numbers and get paid, he’s trying to go down in Yankees history. The end of an ESPN piece on Torres from a few months ago has really stuck with me:
But this — studying Yankees history in the buildup to his major league debut, as if some sort of pop quiz awaited him when he arrived — was a different level of foresight.
“I think he was preparing himself to be one of the most important Yankees ever.”
I mean, how can you not get chills reading that? You absolutely have to love Gleyber Torres.
So what do the Yankees do?
I don’t see Gleyber going anywhere. He has four years of team control left before he hits free agency, and a ton of potential. The interesting thing will be where the Yankees decide to play him. I’m in favor of giving Gleyber another shot at short, re-signing DJ, and bringing in a backup shortstop that’s better than Tyler Wade. But what if they don’t see Gleyber as the long-term solution at shortstop? Do the Yankees let DJ walk, move Gleyber back to second, and take a run at Francisco Lindor or Corey Seager next winter? I’d much rather roll with Gleyber and DJ, but who knows what the Yankees will do. If one thing is for sure, though, it’s that I hope Gleyber Torres is a Yankee for a very long time.