Ok. So the New York Yankees have Juan Soto in their sights heading towards the Winter Meetings. The Padres might budge. They might not. If they budge, they'll seek a package of pitching. We've heard it all. We'll hear it all again. So, whether the Yankees are able to find common ground with the NL West's Fightin' Petcos or not ... what's next?
Odds are the Yankees are done with finding ways to absorb Gleyber Torres' ~$15 million arbitration salary in his final year of team control, whether or not they have to account for Soto's $30 million. If New York connects and lands Soto, that $15 million becomes unpalatable. If they strike out on the generational talent, something tells us they won't be super content to trudge back home and pay Torres the $15 million anyway.
So which teams remain open to a Torres pursuit? The Marlins tried it in 2022, but Pablo López is no longer on the table (unless the Twins are crazy!). The Mariners were involved in 2023 before they signed Kolten Wong, and just cleared out Eugenio Suarez's salary, opening yet another infield spot. That would make all the sense in the world if they intend to contend -- and, post-Luis Castillo extension, ESPN's Kiley McDaniel still thinks that's the idea.
With all due respect to the men atop the Mariners' infield depth chart, McDaniel would love to see Torres head to the Pacific Northwest in exchange for former top draft pick Emerson Hancock. Done? Done. You won't do much better than that.
Yankees Mock Trade: Gleyber Torres to Mariners for Emerson Hancock
Just ... just breathe in that sentence above for a bit. The Mariners are in "go-for-it mode." They're also starting Luis Urias and Josh Rojas at two of their four infield positions. McDaniel must've had his tongue firmly implanted in his cheek when he wrote that evil blurb.
If the Mariners intend to take a step back, both financially and competitively, there's a zero percent chance they absolve the Yankees of one final year of their escalating Torres burden. But, if they're just posturing ("Bubba Crosby is our center fielder"), then Torres would be a great fit, could fill Teoscar Hernández's offensive void, and could thrive in a new environment. It's also hard to imagine the Yankees doing better for a single year of Torres than Hancock, the 2020 sixth overall pick. Hancock whiffed 107 men in 98 innings while allowing 83 hits in 2023, his second consecutive season at Double-A Arkansas (4.32 ERA).
He's hit a minor speed bump, sure, but the pedigree is there. If the Yankees have to shuck a bunch of upper level pitching depth off their system like barnacles to acquire Soto, they could do worse than filling the gap with someone of Hancock's character. And, hey, if all Soto can land the Padres is a pile of pitchers, then even getting one projectable pitcher for Torres would be another impressive win.
The Mariners' budget might not be allowed to expand to Ohtani levels this offseason, but if they could find room in their wallets for a Gleyber Day Sale, everyone might go home satisfied (especially if there's a Soto component to this madness).