The New York Yankees enter the 2018 season with very high aspirations, after acquiring Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins back in December. The Yankees were involved in two notable trades that sent second baseman Starlin Castro to Miami (for Stanton) and third baseman Chase Headley to the San Diego Padres.
With that being said, the Yankees have two openings in their infield heading into spring training. The likelihood isn’t big, but New York could reasonably start two rookies in their infield — at second base and third base — come Opening Day against the Toronto Blue Jays. There’s a chance that at some point in 2018, the Yankees have a starting infield with an average age of around 24 years old.
The Yankees would probably be wiser to sign a veteran infielder to a cheap, one-year deal, but they have two rookie candidates to start this season — Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic wrote recently that the organization is willing to go to battle with what they have, as it’s “not out of the question” to have young guys filling the voids left by Castro and Headley.
The two rookie candidates — Torres (5) and Andujar (65) — are both ranked ranked in MLB.com’s Top-100 rankings that were released Saturday. While it’s unlikely that they both start out this season in the Opening Day lineup, considering they’ve only played a combined 252 games at or above the Double-A level, there’s a good chance that come this summer, they’re both in the everyday lineup for the Yankees.
Torres has yet to play in the big leagues, compared to Andujar, who has thrived in his very limited opportunities in the Bronx across five games. Andujar is the better bet to stick with the major-league club coming out of camp this spring due to the fact that if the Yankees hold Torres back down in the minor leagues for a few weeks, they will get an extra year of control of him, just like the Chicago Cubs did with third baseman Kris Bryant in 2015.
Torres, 21, started out 2017 at Double-A Trenton, slashing .273/.367/.496 with five home runs, 10 doubles, 18 runs batted in and a 138 wRC+. Those numbers after 32 games led to his promotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he hit .309/.406/.457 with a 145 wRC+ in 23 games, before his season was cut short after he had to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Torres is a natural shortstop, but with Didi Gregorius manning shortstop for the foreseeable future, Torres could see time at second base and third base.
Andujar, 22, was incredible offensively in every level he was at in 2017, hitting .315/.352/.498 with 16 home runs, 36 doubles and 82 runs batted in between Double-A and Triple-A. He was even better in his five games in the big leagues, hitting .571/.625/.857 with two doubles and four runs batted in.
The reason that Andujar couldn’t find a spot on the Yankees’ major-league squad last season was because he has had trouble on the defensive side, though his arm is definitely major-league ready. However, his bat is what will help him make a name for himself in the majors, being able to showcase power to all parts of the field.
With not much payroll to work with, considering the Yankees want to stay under the $197-million luxury tax threshold, it might be better for New York to go with the young guns this season.
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