Gleyber Torres should be the odd Yankee out when DJ LeMahieu returns from injury

May 7, 2024; Bronx, New York, USA;  New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (25) at Yankee
May 7, 2024; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (25) at Yankee / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

There are times to drop hot takes, and there are times to drop hard truths. And with the New York Yankees expected to welcome back DJ LeMahieu relatively soon, the infield will have to see some changes. It's just the way it has to be.

On Monday, manager Aaron Boone said LeMahieu would be the team's starting third baseman when he's ready, which would mean Oswaldo Cabrera/Jon Berti would be getting the boot into less playing time. Makes sense. No real objection there.

But what about taking LeMahieu's return to the next level and changing things for the better in the bigger picture? What if the Yankees gave Cabrera (Berti's unfortunate injury didn't help much here) more playing time at second base and took some reps away from Gleyber Torres, who continues to make bad on the Yankees' good faith?

Splice Torres' stats all you want. Tell us he's batting .296 with a .752 OPS over the last seven days. Quite frankly, it doesn't matter. Torres has factored in to exactly zero (0) Yankees wins over that span. Though his three-run homer that gave the Yankees cushion against the Rays on May 12 was crucial, they already had the lead. It helped and cleaned up some intrusive thoughts, as the lead plummeted, but the bullpen certainly could've handled business and the danger might've already peaked. It wasn't a show of dominant force to save the team.

The truth is this: Torres is hitting .228 with a .628 OPS and 79 OPS+ on the season. He's logged just 12 extra-base hits and 16 RBI. He has only 20 walks. He's struck out 56 times and is on pace for a career-worst strikeout rate. On defense, he has seven errors and many other miscues that weren't recorded in the box score; on Sunday, one led directly to a game-shifting rally. Even Torres' recent hot streak hasn't elevated him anywhere close to "fringe-average" in 2024. He's been inconsistent and teetering on the border of "serviceable" for years now. Why does he still deserve to log everyday second base reps for the Yankees?

Gleyber Torres should be the odd Yankee out when DJ LeMahieu returns from injury

The Yankees themselves have expressed little confidence in Torres, dating back to 2020. They bet on him once again in 2024 because, well, they were stuck with him. They couldn't trade him the last two years and figured, "Well, he's in a contract year and he could benefit from the best lineup we've had in 15 years, let's roll the dice."

In theory, Torres could turn it around. We're only eight weeks into the season. But this isn't "unusual" for Torres. This is exactly what many have come to expect from him, as he's had countless concerning identical stretches of play for four years now. And again, a defensive blunder when the Yankees badly needed an out on Monday night should only make a case for his ousting even stronger.

On the surface, Cabrera shouldn't be considered a better all-around player than Torres, but for what the Yankees need right now, he might be. He offers above-average athleticism and a penchant for delivering in the clutch. It's in the numbers (with Berti's included, because we're still sad about the timing).

  • Gleyber Torres - .191 AVG with 13 RBI with RISP (51 plate appearances)
  • Oswaldo Cabrera - .283 AVG with 15 RBI with RISP (50 plate appearances)
  • Jon Berti - .400 AVG with six RBI with RISP (11 plate appearances)

After all, Cabrera came up through the Yankees' system as a middle infielder. We're not saying take the job away from Torres, but he's been the least proficient player out of the three, and Cabrera doesn't deserve to lose playing time to somebody who can't pull their own weight.

Boone could really exercise his power by disciplining Torres in this manner when he's hurting the team. Maybe that'll wake up the impending free agent, who badly needs a good campaign to get paid in the offseason.