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Gleyber Torres is entering a pivotal season with the Yankees

The infielder will be in the middle of trade rumors all year for a variety of reasons. He can still change the Yanks’ plans, though.

New York Yankees Gleyber Torres batting in a spring training game in Orlando Photo by J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday RM via Getty Images

Oswaldo Cabrera is capable of playing second base, shortstop, and both outfield corners at the very least, and had a 111 wRC+ and 1.5 fWAR in just 44 games last season. Oswald Peraza is a terrific defensive shortstop, a young guy with prospect pedigree who had a 146 wRC+ in 57 plate appearances for the Yankees last year, and had plus 20 homers and 35 steals between Triple-A and the majors.

Anthony Volpe, the Yankees’ top prospect, will be MLB-ready at some point this year if he isn’t already. He is hitting .333/.459/.667 with two homers, four steals and a 1.126 OPS in the spring, and has 48 home runs and 83 thefts in the last two years across four minor league levels. DJ LeMahieu has suffered a few injuries in recent years and is aging, but has a 122 OPS+ in four seasons as a Yankee and posted a 111 mark in 2022. He remains a productive hitter.

Those four players are all legitimate options to play second base, and the Yankees have other players in their farm who could end up there (Trey Sweeney in the high minors and Alexander Vargas, Roderick Arias and others further down the ladder). What does this mean? Well, the 2023 campaign might be Gleyber Torres’ last chance to put himself in the Yankees’ long-term plans.

Don’t get us wrong: Torres is a fine player. He has a career 114 wRC+ and is a solid defender at the keystone. But since he is good, young (26), relatively affordable and controllable for another two seasons, he is one of the most attractive trade pieces the Yankees have. He might be in a weird middle point in which he isn’t as good for the Yankees to commit a high-dollar extension to, but he is also good enough to fetch, theoretically — a nice return via trade in the right package.

In fact, Yankees fans believe Torres will be traded at some point in 2023. From a value standpoint, doing it now would probably represent peak value because the acquiring organization would have him for two full seasons before he hits free agency. However, trading him this late in the offseason would force the Yankees to quickly change their roster plans, and it’s unlikely a transaction occurs before the start of the season.

This is, of course, a hypothetical scenario. The Yankees do have several potentially impactful second basemen to replace Torres in the event of a trade, but that doesn’t mean it will inevitably occur. Torres has a non-zero chance to convince the Yankees that they are better off with him as their second baseman of the future. To do that, his 2023 performance will be crucial.

Who’s to say he can’t return to his 2018-19 level? It’s unlikely, yes, but not impossible. He is, theoretically, about to enter the prime of his career, and his 2022 performance — .257/.310/.451 with a 115 wRC+ — is actually not that far off that aforementioned peak (121 wRC+ in 2018 and 125 in 2019).

The potential is there. But he needs to be even better than he was last year to avoid being flipped eventually. The Yankees have some pressing needs that could become even more urgent as the deadline approaches, and Gleyber is one of their go-to trade pieces.