Dodgers trade steal's hot spring preparing Yankees for life after Gleyber Torres

2024 New York Yankees Spring Training
2024 New York Yankees Spring Training / New York Yankees/GettyImages

While spring stats are largely meaningless, these contests do provide the majority of the fan base a closer look at players and top prospects who've previously existed in name only.

Juan Soto? Yeah. He just might be a big-leaguer, and his plate appearances are what will appear on the marquee to sell tickets this March. But it's players like Jorbit Vivas who can actually make meals out of these empty statistics, opening eyes to their approach and panache, if not their true talent.

Vivas' forthcoming Triple-A stint will tell us much more about his abilities, once he's tasked with getting over the final minor-league hump before big-league duty beckons (and yes, there's at least a chance he could stand in for Oswaldo Cabrera this season with the Yankees). Last year, he struggled comparatively with the Dodgers' Oklahoma City club, posting a .225 average with a .633 OPS in 26 games after putting up .280/.827 marks in more substantive time at Double-A.

That meant the Dodgers had a 22-year-old taking up a 40-man roster spot who they felt they could adequately replace (or upgrade upon) with someone else's prospect who might be a little further from the bigs. This allowed the Yankees to step in, send them Trey Sweeney (who's also shining in camp so far), and add both Vivas and Victor González. In the early going this spring, it's quite clear that while the electric Vivas still has much more to prove, his vicious left-handed uppercut swing -- and so-far smooth defense -- could end up making him a Yankees fan favorite, if it ever translates.

Yankees' Jorbit Vivas could eclipse Oswald Peraza in race to replace Gleyber Torres

The Yankees have a Gleyber Torres conundrum this forthcoming offseason that will only grow in tumult if the incumbent 27-year-old -- still just 27! -- has an elite 125-130 OPS+ season after reaching 118/25 homers in a comeback 2023.

If Torres proves he's essential to both the contending Yankees' lineup, and their team chemistry, then New York might have to navigate next offseason knowing that they must make him a "Yankee for life" while also handling Soto's mega-deal.

But if Torres stumbles -- or succeeds so much that his price becomes tough to bear -- Vivas will have just as much of a chance as Oswald Peraza to replace him. Peraza, who has yet to prove much of anything in his repeated and scattered MLB cameos, began spring training with a thudding error.

The optics matter, unfortunately, not to evaluators, but to fans who've been hungry for baseball since October and are begging to fall in love with you (and will turn on a dime if they see more stumbles, feeding their confirmation bias). Thanks to their 82-80 campaign (which felt far worse), members of the 2023 Yankees will have a stink on them, until proven otherwise. Imports like Vivas -- and lefty imports, at that -- will have a cleaner slate.

So far, the newcomer's winning hearts and minds -- but those minds can be easily fooled by meaningless seventh-inning blasts. April is where the real trials begin, but right now, the exit polls are a landslide.

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