It was a crazy weekend for Yankees rumors, as the organization seemed to finally give in to talk of selling. Whether they have started a full-on fire sale of their assets has yet to be seen, but it’s clear that closer Aroldis Chapman is on his way out. He was mentioned in several different packages between many different teams over the course of several days, but it’s the Cubs’ offer of top prospect Gleyber Torres that seems to have won out.
Still, I’ve seen too many negative responses to the trade all because Torres is a shortstop. That shouldn’t be a concern for fans or the Yankees right now.
Just because we have Didi Gregorius in the majors and Jorge Mateo, Tyler Wade, Hoy Jun Park, Wilkerman Garcia, Kyle Holder and others in the minors doesn’t mean that you don’t get the very best value you can find. In the MLB Draft, it isn’t difficult to fall into the hole of wondering if the best player or the right fit is the correct strategy, however there really is no way to deny that the best player isn’t the right fit for any organization. All that matters is that there is future value in the player you get.
Torres is very clearly a talented prospect. He’s the Cubs’ No. 1 prospect, a list that includes six guys among the top 100 prospects in baseball. He’s the 24th-best player in the minors right now, making him more valuable than Jorge Mateo (No. 26) and all the other shortstop prospects in the system that haven’t made the list. MLB rates him similarly tool-wise to Mateo, applauding him for his advanced bat with a mature approach and good pitch recognition while using the whole field. They say he has the potential to be a 15-home run player. How do you not take that if it’s offered to you for a rental?
Prospects are unpredictable, and when you consider that Torres is just 19, anything can happen. Take the talent, upgrade your system, and see what ends up happening in the end. Maybe Didi falls apart, or Mateo ends up failing. You don’t know which guys are going to make it and which aren’t, so wouldn’t it be a good idea to get as many chances to land a top young player as possible? Add Torres into the mix and the Yankees have a very good chance of getting some legitimate talent out of their farm system.
Just look at what the Cubs did. They had Starlin Castro and Javier Baez, but that didn’t stop them from acquiring Addison Russell. Things turned out just fine for them, and now that Russell has cemented himself on the team, Torres–who won’t see the majors for another two-to-three years–is expendable. They can use him to strengthen the best team they have had in 100 years. If the Yankees were to bring Torres into their farm system, they will be allowing themselves the same benefit. Whoever it ends up being, they now have an extra piece to use in a trade down the road to upgrade somewhere else.
Also consider that players can change positions to fit team need. Mookie Betts was a second baseman before the Red Sox moved him to center field in order to fit him on the roster around Dustin Pedroia. The Orioles moved Manny Machado from shortstop to third base because they had a greater need at the hot corner. With Didi Gregorius and Tyler Wade playing well, the Yankees have had Jorge Mateo play second base in order to strengthen his versatility and add to his value. For all we know, both Torres and Mateo could have a future on this team, but someone is going to be moved around to accommodate the other. It happens all the time and it’s a great way to turn your farm system into a strong MLB roster.
Torres has been described as having the instincts and arm strength that will allow him to stay in the infield, and with his bat he could profile at shortstop, second, or third base. Keep in mind that the current MLB roster could use this kind of versatility right now since Starlin Castro has been lousy for most of the season. He’s still under contract for another few years, so if the Yankees can turn one of Torres or Mateo into a second baseman ready to push Castro out of the way, it’s all worked out for the best.
In a perfect world, it would be great for every player to work out and for every acquisition to immediately fill a need. Unfortunately, that’s not how baseball works in the real world. Sometimes you have to just stockpile talent and let things work out for themselves. Torres is hitting .275/.359/.433 with nine home runs and 19 stolen bases so far this season and is probably due for a promotion to Double-A. This is the type of talent you horde and figure things out later.