Gleyber Torres’ regression since his 2019 juiced-ball-infused 38-homer season has been well-catalogued, but the most remarkable part of the story is just how often Torres seems to get in his own head, and take his Yankees career down with him into a dark place.
It happened when Torres was converted to shortstop in 2021, with his discomfort at the position clearly following him to the batter’s box, a place where he once prowled. Hell, a place where he was once the team’s best big-game hitter, impervious to pressure and starting the 2019 ALCS with a flourish in Game 1 in Houston!
Instead of maintaining his fearsome edge, though, Torres made 19 errors in 2021 and followed up a weird, shortened pandemic year with a 93 OPS+, the first below-average mark of his big-league career.
Torres was never as good as he appeared at his All-Star peak; his remarkable 38 homers were only good for a 128 OPS+ in an inflated offensive environment. But he never seemed destined to be this bad. Something was off behind the box score.
Then came 2022, a season that began with so much promise for a resurgent Torres, who’d been permanently moved back to second base, allowing him to rake once more. He posted OPS marks of .799, .817, and .811 in a depressed offensive environment in May, June, and July, cresting just before the trade deadline … at which point it leaked that he was part of a last-minute rumor, Jordan Montgomery-style.
First, it was “teams asking about him” and nothing more. Then, it became an unrealized rumor where the Marlins requested both Torres and Oswald Peraza in exchange for Pablo Lopez, with Peraza’s inclusion reportedly scuttling the deal, per Jon Heyman. Not Torres’.
Since that moment in time, Torres has lost any semblance of his former approach at the plate, chasing wildly and watching his OPS drop to a hard-to-believe .464. When the Yankees needed him most, he became unplayable. It’s not difficult to connect the dots and continue the story fans observed in 2020-21.
Gleyber Torres’ season with 2022 Yankees got ruined by Pablo Lopez trade rumors
Torres may never have climbed back to anywhere his near-40-homer pedestal, but this season, he was shaping up to return to form as a 25-homer bat with a flair for the dramatic and solid middle infield defense at a more comfortable position.
Now? With Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera all looming, the Yankees will have to make a difficult determination about how trustworthy Torres’ future really is.
Based on their deadline discussions, as well as the fallout from the chatter, it seems likely the decision has already been made internally. Does Torres have what it takes to conjure one more elite month out of the ash to carry the Yankees to October? Or is he a lost cause? It’s all in his head.