After staring at an extremely pull-able plug for weeks while ruminating over whether or not it should be pulled, the Yankees finally bit the bullet after their entire Wild Card cushion had already disappeared.
Like seemingly every decision they’ve made in recent years, it felt like pulling teeth to get the front office to deviate from their preferred plan. And once it was done, the date on the calendar made it feel more like a panic move than anything that might breed confidence.
Shortstop, of course, was Torres’ natural position when he was acquired from the Cubs at the 2016 deadline in the masterstroke moment of Brian Cashman’s only fire sale. Unfortunately, nothing looked natural about his 2021, and the simple errors began to snowball after Torres’ return from injury in early September.
Torres’ defensive lapses certainly dragged down the rest of his Yankees teammates repeatedly these past few weeks. In fact, a depressed person could make the argument that Torres holding a ground ball eternally against the Orioles last Sunday and turning it into a single might’ve flipped the momentum of the entire season.
Of course, Gio Urshela’s looked just as bad, if not worse, these past several weeks. Unfortunately, he’ll be New York’s main tourniquet for their crucial slate of upcoming games; more often than not, he’ll shift to short, while Torres will take second.
The Yankees have moved Gleyber Torres from shortstop to second base.
Like most things the Yankees have tried this season, I expect this to work for exactly one game.
Torres, depressingly, has coupled his defensive shortcomings with hilariously powerless offense; the home run recorded mid-game on Sunday night at Citi Field is his only blast in his past 28 games played, and he’s got 10 regular-season home runs in 2020 and 2021 combined. That’s not good enough.
It’s always seemed like the permanent pressure of shortstop has been throwing him off, but now we’ll have at least have several weeks to A/B test that. As we noted before the season began, there’s a significant difference between playing shortstop for the Yankees on occasion and being named the starting shortstop of the New York Yankees.
So, what can we expect moving forward into 2022 now that this card has been played? In a word: chaos. Urshela has never felt more likely to be on the chopping block, especially since DJ LeMahieu must be accommodated long-term. Giving up on Torres feels especially foolish, considering he’s a 24-year-old recent All-Star. If he fits at second long-term, though, LeMahieu must be prepared to be a roving super-sub again (or a starting third baseman), two options that feel less than ideal.
This offseason, the shortstop market is stacked, featuring Trevor Story, Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, and Marcus Semien.
New York seems to fancy both Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe from their own system, too, and Volpe was coincidentally named a top-25 prospect in baseball minutes after the Torres switch news dropped. If the Yankees only want to keep the seat warm rather than fill it, short-term stopgap options include Freddy Galvis and Andrelton Simmons.
Only Brian Cashman knows who he’ll target, but it’s hard to be optimistic about cash being splashed considering this team likes its prospects and demanded both the Cubs and Rangers pick up the entire salaries of Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo, even after they dumped Luis Cessa out of the bullpen for cash they never used.
No matter who’s penciled into the lineup card on Opening Day 2022, odds are high it won’t be Torres, and the repercussions of the shift will result in a few other familiar names being exiled, too.