With everybody reporting to spring training, the positivity is flowing, and New York Yankees fans are hardly thinking about potential factors that could derail their 2021 season.
Clarke Schmidt’s injury tried to dampen the mood, but thankfully it was nothing serious. Also, he likely wasn’t going to make the Opening Day roster and the Yankees have a lot of pitching depth.
But the reality is that there are some concerns fans should have at the front of their minds, chief among them Gleyber Torres’ ability to prove he’s the team’s shortstop of the future.
After a horrible defensive campaign in the shortened 2020, general manager Brian Cashman revealed Torres showed up to summer camp completely out of shape, which, while potentially an excuse for his performance, is a bad look when it comes to motivation and dedication.
A slow start in 2021 would reflect really poorly on the 24-year-old and could have the Yankees start wondering if they need to make some changes. While the star-studded shortstop market in free agency after this year once promised to be a possible bailout, it’s no longer looking that way.
Carlos Correa isn’t a fit with the Bombers and never will be. The Cubs are hoping to re-sign Javier Baez. We’d be shocked if Corey Seager left the reigning World Series champion Dodgers. Francisco Lindor should sign an extension with the Mets if they don’t blow it.
But there’s always Trevor Story, who’s in a precarious situation with the Colorado Rockies. According to the latest, he’s deflected questions about his future with the team and acknowledged that there have been no discussions regarding a contract extension. He will be a free agent after 2021.
We’ve previously posited that Story could be a trade deadline target for the Bombers if Torres falters during the first half of the season. Though that seems like unnecessary heavy lifting and could be a somewhat unpopular move among the fan base, trading Torres for pitching or to Colorado in a deal for Story, and then immediately signing Story to an extension, would eliminate the one large, looming question mark from a performance-based standpoint for the team’s position players (assuming Torres’ struggles continue at the onset of 2021).
And the fact the Rockies and Story aren’t moving toward an extension leaves the door open for this scenario. Because we find it hard to believe they’re going to let him walk solely for draft pick compensation.
Though Story is four years old than Torres, he’s got two Silver Slugger awards, has finished in the MVP voting three times, and has an astonishing 45 defensive runs saved (DRS) since debuting in 2016. There’s certainly a discussion to be had about him being the best all-around shortstop in the game, but his presence in Colorado hurts his case.
Then again, in what scenario would we not see him succeed at the plate in Yankee Stadium with this stacked lineup?
In no way are we advocating for this, but Torres, despite how talented he is, still has a lot to prove to the organization this year. Cashman was not kind to the youngster with his end-of-season and offseason commentary, and refused to commit to him as the team’s starting shortstop beyond 2021 just a month ago.
In theory, Story’s potential availability at the trade deadline could heap pressure on Torres in what’s expected to be a make-or-break season of sorts, but we’d venture to say he’s fully focused on what’s in front of him. Just know that the Yankees have a potential premier backup plan if things don’t go their way by the trade deadline.