Replacing Gleyber Torres
Gleyber Torres is gone for the season — and the Yankees have their hands tied, unless they make a move
The city that never sleeps received another piece of bad news Monday — the reeling Yankees, who have lost 6 straight to west-coast teams that they were supposed to steamroll, learned that top prospect Gleyber Torres would be undergoing Tommy John surgery.
The organization was reportedly planning on having Torres join the organization later this season, possibly for a postseason push, as a 3B — a place where the organization sorely lacked a solid bat. Yankees 3B have batted to the tune of an 86 wRC+, in the bottom 3rd of the majors.
With Torres gone for the season, what choices do the Yankees have as far as fixing the hot corner? Turns out, more than a couple…
The easiest option is to do nothing. Chase Headley, the current 3B, has provided a below-average bat but solid defense at the hot corner.
However, relying on Headley might come back to bite the Yankees — Headley’s bat and glove have slowly declined from his MVP-caliber 2012 season, and Headley only recently broke out of a deep, deep slump. There’s good reason why the Yankees were grooming Torres to replace Headley — he looks out of place on a team of young, hot talent, dedicated to winning now.
Pitchers saw a 33% strikeout rate and got a little too greedy; now Smoak is making them pay the pricemedium.com
Can the Yankees keep winning with Headley in the lineup? Sure — they’ve done a good enough job of it so far. But it’s not very easy — Headley has declined to basically a singles hitter with a strike-out problem. The Yankees should almost certainly look to find someone else to man the hot corner, while Headley takes a back-seat on the bench or as a defensive replacement.
Moustakas would be a fantastic pickup for the Yankees. Moustakas is in the final year of his contract, and he’s already priming himself for a big pay-day by showcasing drastically improved power, a result of some off-season adjustments.
Moustakas’ new swing, as a left-handed pull hitter, would be perfect for Yankee Stadium’s short right field porch, and he’d fit perfectly into the Baby Bomber’s lineup. While the decrease in walks and skyrocketing strikeout rate might give Brian Cashman pause, Moustakas would likely see his production enhanced as a result of being on the Yankees and getting some protection in the lineup.
As a rental, Moustakas could stick around for only a year while the Yankees wait for Torres to heal, and it would also give the Yankees a foot in the door if they wanted to extend Moustakas and move him around the diamond (unlikely though, given their preference for building up a core of young players).
He’d be a damn expensive rental, however — Moustakas’ affordable contract coupled with his new production means that the Yankees would be paying top dollar for his talent. The Yankees might be unwilling to dig that deep into their stacked farm system for a hold-over.
Escobar has been a remarkably consistent 3B with the bat and glove, even if he’s only been an average 1B for his career. He’s continued his consistent average-ness with the Angels, slashing a respectable .274/.326/.402 this year with this Halos.
Escobar isn’t a flashy upgrade over Headley, but he will be an upgrade nevertheless, bringing more power and better contact from the West Coast. The main concern would Escobar’s defense, but unless the Yankees decide to cut bait with Headley, Headley could step in as a late-inning defensive replacement, covering for Escobar’s missteps.
The Angels currently have Escobar on an option year worth $7 million, so they might also ask for a good amount from the Yankees farm system, but he’ll cost far less than Moustakas, yet still be a steady hold-over until Torres comes back.
Perhaps a Nunez reunion is in the books for the Yankees? Nunez has been unspectacular this season, but he’s at least been better than Headley, posting better defense figures and offensive numbers.
Nunez is easily the best fit for the Yankees. Nunez comes dirt cheap, and he’s on a one year deal — $4.2 million for 1 year — which is exactly what the Yankees should be looking for. Nunez could easily hold down the hot corner for the Yankees this season until Torres comes back.
The Giants, currently floundering amid a red-hot NL West, would also love to move Nunez and reload with some prospects. This makes sense for both sides, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen in the next two weeks, assuming the Yankees decide that they can’t keep running out Headley for the rest of the season.