Would trading Gleyber Torres have made the Yankees better?

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 30: Gleyber Torres #25 of the New York Yankees in action against the Kansas City Royals during a game at Yankee Stadium on July 30, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 30: Gleyber Torres #25 of the New York Yankees in action against the Kansas City Royals during a game at Yankee Stadium on July 30, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

It’s simply just worth pondering. Ahead of the trade deadline earlier this week, it was reported the New York Yankees were listening to interested parties calling about second baseman Gleyber Torres, who has experienced a delightful bounce-back season with the Bombers in 2022.

General manager Brian Cashman never pulled the trigger … but what if he did? What if he’d acquired more pitching? What if it would’ve helped manager Aaron Boone be more flexible with his lineups/defensive arrangements?

Torres has seen an offensive resurgence after the Monstars zapped him of his previous 2018/2019 capabilities. After hitting just 12 homers and driving in 67 runs (with a below-average OPS+) across his previous 169 games, Torres already has 16 bombs, 46 RBI and a 117 OPS+ over his most recent 94.

The reason? Well, we can guess it’s because he’s back at second base, in a more comfortable defensive position, after failing spectacularly at shortstop in 2020 and 2021. That’s now his permanent home.

While his defense has been better and his offense has improved, Yankees fans just aren’t going to see another All-Star-like campaign out of him this year. Even this renaissance likely won’t see him hit his 2018 numbers of .273/.340/.480 with 24 homers, 77 RBI and an .820 OPS (122 OPS+).

Would the Yankees have done themselves good by trading Gleyber Torres?

Then there’s the defense. There have been very few complaints (if any) with Torres at second … but he’s not exactly racking up accolades or garnering more recognition for his glove. Don’t yell at us! Even FanGraphs wasn’t that bullish on his return to the position heading into 2022.

Through Wednesday, Torres’ defensive metrics were as follows:

  • 4 Defensive Runs Saved (FanGraphs)
  • 1.2 UZR/150 (FanGraphs)
  • -1 Outs Above Average (FanGraphs)
  • 18th Percentile in Outs Above Average (Statcast)
  • -1.8 Def (FanGraphs)
  • 0.7 dWAR (Baseball-Reference)

We’re merely asking: is this worth his largely pedestrian “return to form” on the offensive end?

It depends if you think Gleyber’s bat is making the Yankees offense that much better. It’s certainly helping, but what if … DJ LeMahieu was the everyday second baseman (he’s an objectively better defender and offensive player), one of the outfielders was kicked out of the picture, Tyler Wade/Oswald Peraza were brought up to play more shortstop, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa was relegated to a utility role (where he belongs)? A lot of Yankees fans dislike IKF and would’ve rather seen him kicked to the curb, but that’s an entirely different topic. He’s not bringing back the value Torres would have in a trade. We’re talking about making the team better on both fronts.

Plus, you hate IKF’s defense? Understandable … but he’s only 5% below Torres in Outs Above Average, has only made four more errors, and has been still good for 1.5 WAR (compared to Torres’ 2.7) despite sporting ZERO power and only notching singles.

If the Yankees used Torres to get Josh Hader, Pablo Lopez or Carlos Rodón, would it really have been the worst thing in the world given their more urgent need for pitching in 2022 and beyond? Shifting around the infield could’ve done some good, and potentially getting Josh Donaldson out of the lineup more often would’ve resulted in below-the-surface improvements.

It’s hard to say, though, because Torres has clearly been a spark plug and has positively contributed. But with Jordan Montgomery out of the picture, the rotation a bit weakened, and the bullpen exhausted, the Yankees trading from a position of strength (with help in the pipeline in Volpe and Peraza) to address a position of weakness could’ve made all the difference … especially since it’s fairly evident Torres won’t be in the Bronx long term.