With Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres, the speculation often matches the reality. He wears his heart on his sleeve. When he's bouncy and thriving, we see it. When he's lost in the weeds, desperately looking for a way out, we see that, too.
So, when Torres cratered following the 2022 MLB trade deadline, it wasn't difficult to connect the dots. He'd nearly moved to Miami in exchange for Pablo Lopez, a "rumor" that quickly was confirmed as a reality.
When he'd been shipped from Chicago to New York in 2016, he was a kid, thankful for the Cubs giving him his professional start, but ready to start a new chapter (and make his MLB debut) with baseball's ultimate winners. In 2022? He was in his fifth big-league season, and nearly had his baseball family ripped away from him -- and oh, by the way, he was still just 25 years old.
Torres spoke with The Athletic's Chris Kirschner this week about what happened to him in August 2022, when his "home" nearly changed on a dime.
The second baseman seems to be in a great headspace at the moment, as evidenced by the comfortable oppo pop he's shown off early in camp and his excitement to join Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. That said, he knows his long-term future with the team is still in flux (and that's being optimistic), and thus his performance is still tenuously balanced.
Yankees Gleyber Torres admits trade deadline helped torpedo his August 2022
When pressed on his August troubles, Torres pinpointed to Kirschner that "pitchers were just making good adjustments against him," but ... adjustments alone don't typically lead to a 28 wRC+ for a guy who's en route to a 4.1 bWAR season with a 114 OPS+.
In many ways, '22 was one of Torres' finest full seasons in the Bronx, and clearly his best since the juiced ball in 2019 helped him towards 38 homers. But in the immediate aftermath of the trade deadline, he was Stephen Drew crossed with Kelly Johnson.
Torres admitted in his very next answer that his sudden arrival to the rumor mill affected him deeply:
"In the moment, it’s for sure something I think about. During the season, you’re playing with all of your brothers and you hear you almost got traded. It’s really hard, especially when you have the relationships you do with all of the boys."- Gleyber Torres
He also admitted to Kirschner that, if given an opportunity to speak alone with Brian Cashman, he'd tell the Yankees' front office, "Let's sign a big deal."
The reality, though, is that this is a two-way street, and the development of Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe, along with the long-term pact signed by DJ LeMahieu, make it difficult to envision a path forward for the Yankees and Torres beyond 2023.
When those words first trip out of your mouth, they sound crazy. Torres is still just a relative kid. If he's not a superstar, but rather a 115-120 OPS+ bat with strong defense at second base, that's a very valuable player, and one that an offense-starved lineup can't typically afford to sacrifice.
If he's not a shortstop, and Peraza is, though, that knocks him out of contention at one position. If Volpe's a superstar -- and he appears to be -- there goes a second potential spot. If LeMahieu is healthy, there's very little role for him alongside "all his brothers" in the Bronx beyond 2023 -- and thinking about him spending the full year here even feels optimistic.
Hopefully, he can continue pushing that sad reality out of his mind and retain the focus necessary to put up one more big year in pursuit of a championship.