Welcome to the fifth season of The Gleyber Torres Show. It’s difficult for TV shows to sustain longevity. Often, they peak in the second or third season, then peter out by the fifth or sixth. Sometimes, a show bears only a scant resemblance to its beloved early episodes. By the end of the run, even the most loyal devotees only watch out of habit and nostalgia.
Gleyber captivated audiences in year one. In the second season, the show looked like an all-time classic in the making. Since then, there have been few enjoyable moments. At this point, it’s long past time for the Yankees to remove Gleyber from a prime time slot.
In his first 267 games, Torres slugged 62 home runs across two seasons at ages 21 and 22. In his 179 games since 2020, he has only 13. Through the first ten games of 2022, his slash line is just .161/.229/.323. He’s not the only culprit for the Yankees’ early-season offensive woes, especially after getting shut out by the Orioles, but he’s the one who ought to have the shortest leash.
This offseason, the Yankees prioritized improving defensively. That was a noble goal in its own right, especially after Gleyber’s awful glovework at shortstop in 2021. The three major positions where they made changes were catcher, third base, and shortstop. There’s no question about Josh Donaldson’s bat at third base, even though he hasn’t caught fire just yet. However, rolling with Isiah Kiner-Falefa and the tandem of Kyle Higashioka and Jose Trevino at shortstop and catcher puts two nearly automatic outs at the bottom of the lineup. (Several better shortstop options were available, but that’s a whole different can of worms.)
This is an unusual circumstance for the Yankees. During their successful run over the past 30 years, they have almost always had a circular lineup with no breaks for the opposing pitcher. Sure, they’ve had players who had bad years, but there have been very few defense-only starters. Now that they have two of them, there’s more pressure on positions 1-7 in the batting order to score runs. This includes Torres, who has hit sixth or seventh in every game after pinch-hitting on Opening Day. On days such as yesterday when Tim Locastro spelled Joey Gallo in left field or when Marwin Gonzalez gets a rare start, the lineup becomes even shorter.
The season is still young, but we’ve been waiting for Gleyber to rediscover his power stroke since 2019. If he doesn’t provide any offense, then there are now three automatic outs. That’s essentially three innings per game in which the Yankees forfeit the opportunity to score runs.
Making matters worse, it’s impossible to argue that Torres is a glove-first player. His tribulations at shortstop have been well documented. His way-too-early returns at second base this year look promising, but no one can say he’s a better defender than DJ LeMahieu. It’s one thing to justify the anemic bats of Kiner-Falefa, Higashioka, and Tevino (yes, he’s 5-10 so far, but look at the back of his baseball card) in the name of defense. That justification simply doesn’t hold water for Gleyber.
Gleyber Torres Options
Gleyber Torres has minor league options remaining. There’s nothing preventing the team from sending him to Triple-A. The Yankees like to use a short bench, but Marwin Gonzalez plays nearly every position, so they would still have players on the roster capable of handling second base. They can either see if Miguel Andújar could be a more successful reclamation project or kickstart Oswaldo Cabrera’s career as a utility infielder. Alternatively, they can bring up another versatile pitcher like Luis Gil.
A demotion to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre might be a bridge too far for the time being. Besides, some of his Statcast numbers suggest he’s been unlucky on batted balls so far. He could just become more of a bench player who starts two or three times per week instead of six or seven times. If and when he heats up, he can rejoin the regular lineup.
It’s only April 18, and while this may seem over reactionary based on early-season struggles, this isn’t just a minuscule ten-game sample. It’s been ten games in 2022 + 162 in 2021 + 60 in 2020. The memory of 2018 and 2019 only counts for so much and he has used up his goodwill. There’s no reason why he needs to be an everyday player until he proves he can contribute to the lineup.