2020 was a rough season for Gleyber Torres, who was entering his first year as the Yankees starting shortstop. Torres came in ready to prove himself but quickly made five errors in just 13 spring training games. After the covid hiatus, Gleyber came back prepared to be everything Yankees fans hoped he would be, but he fell short. In his first 21 games, Torres made six errors and through the entire 60 game shortened season he had a whopping nine errors.
Everyone thought Torres would be able to pick himself up in the new season. Even after a long offseason of working, Gleyber, who came up in the Cubs’ system as a shortstop, doesn’t look much like a shortstop.
It didn’t even take one whole game this season for Yankee fans to realize Torres still has some defensive work to do before he’s looked at as a defensive commodity rather than a defensive liability.
Opening Day woes
It was only the 2nd inning when Gleyber made is first error of the 2021 regular season. Teoscar Hernandez hit a sharp ground ball toward Gleyber’s backhand, which hopped passed him and into left field. It isn’t strange to see Torres struggle with balls to his right. A majority of errors committed by the 24 year old playing both 2nd and short come when the ball is hit to his right side. A bad hop means a bad time for Gleyber almost every time.
That wasn’t the only defensive hiccup for Gleyber during opening day. Torres made arguably an even worse defensive play in the 9th after another sharp grounder by Hernandez. Torres didn’t charge the slow bouncing grounder, bobbled it, and eventually made a weak one hop throw to the Yankees newest first baseman Jay Bruce.
I wish I could say that this was the end of Gleyber’s shortstop struggles. Write them off as opening day jitters and move on but unfortunately that isn’t the case.
Two days later, Gleyber found himself once again struggling to make a solid throw to first base. After a sharp ground ball from Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Torres was able to make the dreaded back hand play but was unable to make a clean throw. In this case you certainly can’t place all the blame on Gleyber. Any solid first baseman comes off the bag and catches Torres’s trailing throw, but Bruce isn’t a first baseman by trade, and Gleyber should easily be able to make a solid chest high throw. No matter who you want to blame, Gleyber was charged with the error here.
There aren’t many options for the Yankees if Torres can’t pick himself up. Despite the acquisition of Odor, Wade is still the teams only shortstop, meaning that if things go really south we would end up giving up offense for defense. We can all agree that absolutely no one wants to see that. Wade could become a late inning defensive replacement for now to avoid losing Gleyber’s bat altogether, but I think the reality is that Gleyber is your 2021 shortstop. Long term we can go into quite a few options. Many people suggest moving Gleyber back to second but his struggles with the backhand exist there as well. Moving Gleyber to second also puts us in a position to move DJ to either first or third, losing either Luke Voit or Gio and potentially wasting DJ’s talent at first. The last option would be to sign a new shortstop in the offseason and use Gleyber in a package to acquire more pitching since Kluber will be done with his one year contract.
Who to get if things get worse
There are a few options for the Yankees after this season ends. Three big name shortstops are making their way to free agency and could potentially solve the Yankees shortstop problem if it persists. Trevor Story, Corey Seager, and Carlos Correa all become available this season and could all make serious additions to the Yankees roster. Story, a Colorado Rookie, is a right handed contact hitter who has played up the middle with DJ before. Seager is a lefty made for the short porch at Yankee Stadium. Correa may seem like an odd choice for the Yankees given the cheating beef but could actually make for a solid addition. If the Yankees are looking to upgrade their shortstop, this offseason is certainly the time to do it.
But it’s not time to give up yet
Despite the long time defensive struggles of Torres, it certainly isn’t time to give up on him; at least not yet. Gleyber does possess some serious arm strength, making it even more annoying to watch him make bad throws. Despite his struggles throwing across the diamond, we know that this isn’t the real issue for Torres. It’s not that we are dealing with a shortstop who cant make the throw, rather we are dealing with one who cant make the throw accurately which can easily be remedied. Torres is also an offensive monster making it hard to keep him out of the line up, especially when the only backup option is Tyler Wade who couldn’t hit water if he fell off a boat.
Torres might not be off to the best start, but we are only five games into a 162 game stretch.