SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Yankees are comfortable with Gleyber Torres as an everyday shortstop should they be unsuccessful in re-signing free agent Didi Gregorius.
Torres, after all, filled in just fine for Gregorius the first two-plus months of last season while the latter recovered from Tommy John surgery.
“Gleyber’s shown he can play short, he can play second,” GM Brian Cashman said.
But Cashman – prudently – isn’t ready to make any declarations beyond that, or even say for certain that’s the way the Yankees will go should Gregorius not be back.
Not at this early a date of the offseason.
“I prefer to let the winter play out, and then describe my comfort level with all aspects of the club when it's closer to being a finished product and we’re ready to go in spring training,” Cashman said Tuesday on the second day of the annual general managers meetings. “We saw Gleyber can play short this year, period. I mean he's been a shortstop his whole career until recently when we moved him to second because of Didi. But in terms of comfort level or strengths and weaknesses on whatever the potential 2020 club looks like, I need to go to work first and see when the dust settles what it collectively looks like.”
As of now – and it’s important to stress the “as of now” part – the Yankees have a starting infield that likely looks this way: Gio Urshela at third, Torres at short, DJ LeMahieu at second and Luke Voit at first.
“We have a lot of quality options,” Cashman said, also referencing players like Miguel Andujar, Thairo Estrada and Tyler Wade, among others, as infield options. “I think the team we have manning the infield right now is really good. My job is to find ways to (answer the question), can it be made better with the available players in the marketplace, both trade or free agency? So, until I get more information from potential trade partners or by agents, I don’t have an answer yet.”
Andujar in particular presents an interesting case. The third baseman, though he struggled in the field at times in his rookie 2018 season, was a potent righthanded bat, finishing second in AL Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .297 with 27 homers, 47 doubles, 92 RBIs and an .855 OPS in 149 games. The doubles broke the franchise’s rookie record of 44, set by Joe DiMaggio in 1936.
He could be a trade chip this offseason as the Yankees try to upgrade their rotation, or not. If the 24-year-old - limited to 12 games this season because of an early-season shoulder injury that eventually required surgery - is back, Cashman said the bat is one he wants to find a spot.
“If Gio continues to hold that position (third base), you're going to want to see if you can find a way to get that bat in that lineup,” Cashman said. “Whether it's, can he play first? Can he play the outfield? You start playing those mind games. I’m not saying it’s anything that you want to do but I've been around long enough, too, when the bat’s good enough…”
Cashman then recalled 2001 when rookie shortstop Alfonso Soriano, who had brief call-ups in 1999 and 2000, turned in a monster spring training campaign in place of an injured Derek Jeter.
“Jeter comes back (and) now all of a sudden it's like, ‘wow, this guy's too good to send down to Triple-A,’” Cashman said. “We played him in left field for a little while, and then we moved him second base (because) it’s like, ‘how can we keep this dynamic bat?’ So I can’t dispute that I’ve run through my mind about Andujar that way, too. Because he's a special kid, and he's really talented. You know what he can do with the bat.”