Gleyber Torres is the big price the Cubs had to pay to acquire elite closer Aroldis Chapman for the stretch run and postseason. He’s not an elite athlete at shortstop and has a thicker build for the position, causing some to question whether he can stay at the at shortstop for the long term despite excellent instincts, a strong arm, and good footwork. He played second base today, a position he has played more frequently since joining the Yankees organization.
Like Jimenez, the 19-year-old Torres has matured physically since signing and while that may have cost him some in terms of raw quickness, he has compensated by showing more extra base power with the occasional ability to turn on a pitch and show some pull-side power.
That is exactly what the right-handed hitter did on Wednesday, taking a 93-mph fastball from righty Duane Underwood and taking it out halfway up the berm beyond the left-center field wall.
In his next at-bat, Underwood took a different approach and kept Torres off balance with his curveball, a pitch he didn’t show much feel for in the first inning, and jumping ahead with two quick swinging strikes. Torres, however, made the adjustment, protecting the plate and taking a good pitch just off the outside and lining it over the first baseman’s head for a double. It was a very different at-bat from the first one where Torres jumped all over a first pitch fastball. He had to battle and make adjustments. To me it was his most impressive at-bat of the day, though it didn’t start off that way.
Torres would walk in his last two plate appearances, showing yet another part of his game that has matured over the last couple of seasons. He has shown flashes of that patience, but the approach wasn’t always consistent until about midway through this season.
The Cubs likely felt that they could part with Torres because of the presence of Addison Russell at shortstop, Ben Zobrist at second base, and Javier Baez at both of those positions — not to mention that Ian Happ has been taking the bulk of his defensive reps at second base as well. That he was expendable, however, does not take away anything from Torres as a starting-caliber infielder in his own right.
The only question is where he will eventually land. We’ve mentioned the mixed opinion as to whether he is a shortstop long term. but I feel that he can more than hold his own there, though that opportunity may not come with the Yankees. He has shown some power, but whether he will have enough to carry third base is another question. It seems the most likely destination is the position he played today – second base, where he should be an above average player on both offensively and defensively. – John Arguello