June 18, 2024

Things are going quite well for the New York Yankees. As of June 3, they were 42-19, with a three-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. However, with the trade deadline less than two months away, Yankees whispers have already begun to fly. Could second baseman Gleyber Torres and first baseman Anthony Rizzo be forced to stand aside for future roster enhancements made by general manager Brian Cashman?

Jim Bowden of The Athletic highlighted it as a possibility while examining the trade deadline needs of all 30 MLB teams. “The Yankees’ right side of the infield has underperformed and if the production doesn’t improve, that will be the area of focus to upgrade via trades,” he stated.

Thanks to sluggers like Aaron Judge and Juan Soto, New York’s total offensive productivity is looking good. However, manager Aaron Boone was probably hoping to see more from the right side of his infield.

Torres has made 251 plate appearances and is batting.230/.308/.324 with four homers, 16 RBI, and 26 runs. Through 246 plate appearances, Rizzo’s performance has not improved significantly. He’s slicing.240/.301/.360 with 7 home runs, 25 RBI, and 28 runs scored.

These two infielders’ combined 2024 salary is $31.2 million. According to Spotrac, Torres earns $14.2 million while Rizzo earns $17 million.

Rizzo & Torres Have Plenty Left to Play for in 2024

Anthony Rizzo's concussion derailed what looked to be an excellent 2023 -  Pinstripe Alley

 

With the Yankees firmly in playoff contention as one of baseball’s greatest teams, Rizzo and Torres have something to play for in 2024. The same holds true for their individual contract situations.

Rizzo is in his second season of a two-year, $40 million contract. The Bombers also have a $17 million club option on the veteran left-handed hitter in 2025. He only appeared in 99 games in 2023 due to complications from a concussion he had early in the season. This hindered his total performance, which included a.706 OPS, 12 home runs, and 41 RBI in 421 plate appearances. That, along with a poor start to 2024, does not bode well for the alternative being pursued.

Torres is in his final year of team control before entering free agency this winter. He’s been a consistent performer for the Yankees since his debut in 2018, but 2023 was one of his greatest seasons. He slashed. In 672 plate appearances, he batted 273/.347/.453, with 25 home runs, 28 doubles, 68 RBI, and 90 runs scored.

A subpar season before to entering the free-agent market may not have a significant impact on Torres’ market. This is especially true given that he will just be 28 in December. However, failing to meet expectations will be detrimental if he has the opportunity to speak with interested teams.

Yankees Rumors Have Been Circulating Them for a While

This season, the Bombers had a payroll of more over $300 million. Team owner Hal Steinbrenner does not want this to become the norm.

“I’m gonna be honest, payrolls at the levels we’re at right now are simply not sustainable for us financially,” Steinbrenner stated. “It wouldn’t be sustainable for the vast majority of ownership [groups], given the luxury tax we have to pay.”

While the effort to keep payroll under control is not expected to impede New York’s eventual pursuit of Soto, it will have an impact on others.

Rizzo could be released due to his projected 2025 salary and lack of output. Even New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso is being discussed as a trade deadline replacement.

Torres has openly said that he wants to be a Yankee for life, but a May 23 story from Bob Klapisch of NJ.com suggests that New York is ready to move on. “That means it’s more than likely Gleyber Torres, who’ll be eligible for free agency this winter, won’t return next season,” he stated. “He’ll instead be replaced by the growing number of Yankees who’ve come through the farm system and are currently flourishing.”

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