When New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius injured his shoulder in the World Baseball Classic, it created chatter about elite prospect Gleyber Torres starting the 2017 season in the Bronx. Once Torres was sent down to Double-A Trenton, the discussion shifted towards another prospect in Tyler Wade. Although both Torres and Wade were extremely productive in spring training, the Yankees made the appropriate decision by staying patient with their young players.
Torres, the third-best prospect in baseball according to MLBPipeline.com who was acquired in the Aroldis Chapman trade with the Chicago Cubs, hit .448 with nine RBIs in 19 spring games. Torres’ bat is big-league ready, but putting things into perspective, he is only 20 years old. An intriguing point regarding Torres is that when members of the Yankees coaching staff where polled who should replace Gregorius, Torres was the favorite. However, the highest level of baseball Torres has played in is A ball, and he still has improvements that need to be made in the field.
Also, if Torres does explode in the minors and is worthy of a call-up towards the end of the season, he still is not the team’s starting shortstop. The best move could be for Torres to learn how to play second base, and move Starlin Castro to third base. Then the Yankees can make a decision on Chase Headley in the winter like they did with Brian McCann last offseason.
Wade also had an impressive spring but was told yesterday he did not make the 25-man roster. The likelihood that Wade would make the team was much more significant than Torres, but the team has decided that Pete Kozma is the backup infielder.
Rob Refsnyder, who is the subject of trade rumors, was an enticing option because of his ability to play multiple positions in the infield and the corner outfield positions. The Yankees also would have had the opportunity to showcase Refsnyder’s talents on the big-league level if they decide to trade him. Refsnyder’s inability to play shortstop hurt his chances to make the team, though, and Kozma can serve that position better while having big-league experience of his own.
Currently, the Yankees have no available spots on the 40-man roster, so general manager Brian Cashman would have to sacrifice a player in order to put Torres or Wade on the team. An argument could be made that they deserve a spot over others, but why make that move for someone who is only going to be here for a month as a backup?
Cashman was already forced to make these roster crunch types of trades last year, moving Ben Gamel and James Pazos to the Seattle Mariners for young pitching. Jordan Montgomery has a legitimate chance to be the Yankees fifth starter, and he is also not on the 40-man roster. Because of the Yankees schedule, they said they will not call up a starter until mid April, but Montgomery will eventually need a spot on the roster.
In a radio interview, Cashman denied that Torres or Wade were held back because it would start their service time with arbitration, but that is an additional factor worth considering. The Yankees are most likely not winning the World Series, so when they turn the corner in a few more years, having Torres and Wade under the most control possible makes sense.
Torres and Wade are both outstanding talents with bright futures, but in this scenario, the roadblocks for them in the big leagues are simply not worth it. Kozma will have to be placed on the 40-man roster, which means the roster spots was not the top reason Torres and Wade are held back. However, in September, it would not be the biggest surprise if we see them in the pinstripes.
Torres has not played above A ball, and Wade has not played above Double-A. Simply, these prospects have more duties to fill in the minors before they reach the Bronx.