Apparently, the Yankees are set enough in their Torres plans and confident enough in their middle infield prospects not to have their plans upended by LeMahieu’s availability. That’s their decision, and best of luck to them.
Torres has been much more of a roller coaster ride than anyone anticipated back in 2016, when he was the surest possible “sure thing” prospect and the other half of the Yankees’ deadline deal with the Cubs for Aroldis Chapman. If not an outright star, Torres was supposed to bring stability without selling out for power, and he emerged as a middle infield cornerstone in 2018 shortly after his promotion.
Somewhere along the way, though, his devastating opposite-field gap power became a rarer occurrence, as the juiced ball led to him selling out for power, which led to boom-or-bust seasons with alternating great months and catastrophic stretches from 2020-2022.
Now, with two years left before Torres’ free agency, the Yankees have, ahem, higher-priority extension targets sitting ahead of their second baseman. If they don’t intend to bring him back for four or five years, despite a 114 OPS+ and 24 bombs in 2022, then perhaps the time to sell is now.
It seems the Yankees don’t intend to take any chances prior to striking a deal. According to Torres’ agent, the team is barring him from Venezuelan Winter Ball this offseason, presumably hoping to minimize any and all injury risk as their talks with the Mariners (?) heat up.
Yankees might be keeping Gleyber Torres out of winter ball to protect trade value
Torres’ trade value is tough to define. While the Yankees look at his two years prior to free agency and see a ticking clock, many teams will see a pair of potentially productive years at only a modestly rising cost.
Complete payroll sinkholes like the Miami Marlins might not be interested in his escalating arbitration (though they reportedly were at this year’s deadline…), but teams like the Mariners will continue to make sense until a deal is done. Seattle’s in a go-for-it window, and recently facilitated a similar win-now move with the Toronto Blue Jays in a deal for Teoscar Hernández.
Hernández fit the Mariners’ roster better than Toronto’s, presuming the Jays replace him with a long-term signing of a left-handed power-and-patience outfielder. Torres could fit Seattle’s plans better than the Yankees’, too, as long as he stays healthy all winter long.
The Yankees clearly want to do everything they can to make sure that occurs, to the best of their ability.