For as much as we are fans of “baseball” and generally have a sense of what’s going on around the league, we all around here tend to get a little myopic on things that actually touch on the Cubs. Mostly that’s by design and is a good thing – I don’t want to speak for all of you, but we are hardcore Cubs fans, so that is our lens. But sometimes it shows up in this thing where we feel like every bit of struggle a Cubs player goes through is unique, and every bit of success a former Cubs player has is perpetual.
In other words, it has felt for a long time like every young position player who came up with the Cubs had some success and then stagnated or regressed. And every young position player the Cubs traded away became a superstar without any struggles. I understand why we feel that way, but it’s not always accurate.
A really notable example is popping up in New York, where Gleyber Torres is struggling much more than I realized. I vaguely knew he hadn’t quite carried forward the huge breakout of his first two years, but I had no idea it had gotten to the point where the Yankees were trying to maneuver their infield around his issues, and the New York punditry was starting to talk about whether the team needed to move on(!) from Torres.
Some of what is out there the last couple days:
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) September 15, 2021
“I made too many errors. Where we are right now we can’t make any. I feel really good moving to second. I just want to be part of the team…Boone asked me to play second and I said yes…Players always feel pressure. We play for the Yankees” -Gleyber Torres pic.twitter.com/ys3eaHmQOw
— Talkin’ Yanks (@TalkinYanks) September 14, 2021
With Yankees moving Gleyber Torres off SS today, more evidence they may play for a big free agent SS this winter, whether that be Correa, Seager, Semien, Story or Baez.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) September 13, 2021
Torres, who isn’t even 25 yet, has hit just .248/.329/.353 (91 wRC+) over the last two seasons, with this year considerably worse than the pandemic season (which was, itself, considerably worse than his first two seasons). More urgently for the Yankees, his defense at shortstop has apparently become unplayable.
Against that backdrop, here’s some of what Sherman wrote:
And baked into this for the Yankees is that this is not just an end of 2021 issue. What do they have in Torres moving forward? As recently as 2019, Torres was mentioned prominently in the dynamic 22-and-under group with players such as Ronald Acuna Jr., Bo Bichette, Rafael Devers, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr. But as the others have all improved, Torres’ 2019 is feeling aberrational, fueled by hitting 13 homers with a 1.512 OPS in 18 games against the dreadful Orioles ….
(The Yankees) don’t want to give up on him, sell low and see him re-emerge elsewhere. It is a real concern — Torres is obviously talented. But the Yanks felt similarly about Miguel Andujar, Greg Bird, Clint Frazier and Gary Sanchez. How has that worked out?
Plus, if the Yanks do keep Torres, are they instantly re-upping their defensive issues since LeMahieu would have to play out of position?
It took a long time for the Yankees to finally agree with the consensus — Torres is not a shortstop. Next up: how long do they stick with him as a Yankee?
Stick with him as a Yankee? Is it really already to the point where the Yankees might consider dumping Torres after this season?
Torres is already in his arbitration years – he was a Super Two this year, making $4 million – and has three more seasons of control after this year. Surely the Yankees wouldn’t non-tender Torres just to save $6 million or so (and risk losing him for nothing if he breaks back out), but would they trade him in some kind of swap-out of arb-reclamation players? It’s so weird that it’s even a question at this point.
As for the Cubs, I don’t really see them going aggressively after Torres – not more than any other club, that is – given the presences of Nick Madrigal and Nico Hoerner. If Torres can really only play second base, then it’s pretty hard to make it work with the Cubs, where Madrigal can also probably only play at second base (and it’s likely Hoerner’s best spot, too). Obviously you’d never say no to getting a huge upside 25-year-old in the door, but I tend to think there would be other teams out there willing to part with more for Torres thanks to a more obvious fit. So the Cubs probably wouldn’t be outbidding anyone.
That said, hey, if you want to dream on a world where, years after the Aroldis Chapman trade, the Cubs wind up getting Gleyber Torres back for his prime years, where he breaks out into superstardom? Go for it.
Mostly I’ll just be tracking the story because I find it wild and interesting.