The usual Yankees’ starting third baseman Chase Headley, is non-too pleased to be losing playing time to 23-year-old Ronald Torreyes.
Chase Headley, who is in the second year of a four-year, $52 million contract is not the long term answer for the Yankees at third base. He’s a decent enough switch-hitting stop gap, employed until either prospect Miguel Andujar is ready for the show or the club acquires a younger, flashier alternative.
Could that alternative be Ronald Torreyes? Well, Torreyes just finished up the Yankees’ West Coast road trip going 9-16, which included a 4-4 affair that saw him hit his first major league home run against the Los Angeles Angels.
But before you go claiming the Yankees have themselves the next coming of Jose Altuve, pump the breaks. The 150-pound utility player is perfectly suited for a backup role at three different infield positions, and supplies just enough speed and base hitting ability to do exactly what it is he’s doing now–to act as a spot starter.
While Torreyes has been hitting a Gary Sanchez-esque .423 since the All-Star break and has posted six XBH, three RBI, seven runs scored and an OBP% of .423, there’s no concrete evidence that he is having anything more than a hot streak.
Surely, Yankees Manager Joe Girardi has taken notice:
"He’s just playing so well and swinging the bat well, it’s hard to ignore. If he continues to hit like this, I’m gonna have to find ways to play him."
Earlier in the season, though it was only a small sample size of 64 at-bats, the diminutive infielder managed a meager .219 batting average and an OPS of .583. So will the real Ronald Torreyes, please stand up.
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Although the Yankees have begun to rid themselves of upside down contracts, shedding themselves of Headley, who still possesses an above average glove, semi-reliable throwing arm, and has shown real signs of an offensive progression in the second half of the season (.253 with 11 homers and 40 RBI), won’t likely happen, if at all, until the offseason.
Headley, who’s been battling an Achilles strain for a number of weeks, knows that spending much more time watching from the dugout could do more harm than good:
"It is what it is. You can’t play when you’re not in there and as an everyday player, I think the more you don’t play, the harder it gets. Hopefully, I get a chance to get back in there soon and get on a little bit of a run again. … [Girardi] knows I want to play, but it’s not about me, it’s about the Yankees. [Torreyes] has played great. I just want to play."
Honestly, the Yankees have a good problem on their hands. They have a young, athletic rookie that is enjoying a bit of success, and a proven veteran that is hungry to re-establish himself as an everyday player.
So if Torreyes continues to rake, and proves that he can match the amazing output of Altuve, then great; trade Headley for a lower level prospect or two at the Winter Meetings, as to recoup some of the $13 million he’s slated to make in each of the next two seasons.
If Torreyes comes back down to Earth sooner rather than later, having a utility guy on the bench who not only knows his role but plays it exceptionally well, is vital to the overall success of a 25-man roster. This is a win-win situation.