One of the big offseason questions for the Yankees is how to proceed with Gleyber Torres. The veteran second baseman is one year from free agency, projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz for a $15.3MM salary in his final year of arbitration.
That’s still solid value for the team’s second-best hitter. Torres had a strong 2023 campaign, hitting .273/.347/.453 with 25 home runs across 672 plate appearances. With 23-year-old Oswald Peraza having reached the MLB level, there’s a case for the Yankees to move Torres for help elsewhere on the roster.
Chris Kirschner and Brendan Kuty of the Athletic reported on Wednesday that the Yankees had not engaged Torres’ camp on extension talks. Certainly, it’s early enough in the winter that they could still do so. Yet there hasn’t seemed much urgency on the part of the organization to keep Torres beyond his control window. During 2023 Spring Training, the infielder replied “I wish” when asked by ESPN’s Marly Rivera whether there had been any extension talks before he and the team agreed to a one-year arbitration deal.
The absence of an extension doesn’t mean the Yankees need to make a trade. They could retain Torres for a final season and potentially make him a qualifying offer next winter. Since they’re likely to exceed the luxury tax in 2024, the compensation pick would presumably fall after the fourth round if Torres declines a QO and signs with another team. New York could find a more valuable return this winter if they feel comfortable with Peraza stepping into an everyday second base role.
One potential trade partner: the archrival Red Sox. Rob Bradford of WEEI wrote yesterday that Boston identified Torres as a trade target during the 2023 season. Meanwhile, Sean McAdam of MassLive.com reports that the Yankees have shown prior interest in Boston right fielder Alex Verdugo, whom they could again pursue this offseason.
There’s merit to a potential swap involving Torres and Verdugo. Each is one year from free agency. Verdugo, as a left-handed hitting outfielder who rarely strikes out, is the type of player that Yankees GM Brian Cashman is openly targeting. The Red Sox have Jarren Duran and Masataka Yoshida alongside Verdugo as lefty-swinging outfielders. Boston’s first-year chief baseball officer Craig Breslow indicated this week they’ve already received interest in Verdugo from other teams.
Torres is the better player. Verdugo is coming off a .264/.324/.421 showing and has been a…