LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — On the day top Yankees prospect Gleyber Torres turned 21, New York general manager Brian Cashman revealed the team’s big league staff wanted him on last year’s Opening Day roster.
Shortstop Didi Gregorius injured a shoulder while with the Netherlands for the World Baseball Classic and did not play his first game of the season for the Yankees until April 28. At the time, Torres had not played above Class A, and Cashman was concerned he had never played in cold weather.
“Our major league staff wanted him ‘now.’ They wanted him to break camp and then play him at shortstop,” Cashman said Wednesday at the winter meetings. “We just felt it was important for him to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run, and I didn’t want him drinking out of a fire hose in April. So I took my time, and I think it was the right move for him and for us.”
Voted the top player in the Arizona Fall League last year, Torres hit .273 with 5 homers and 18 RBIs in 32 games at Double-A Trenton this year. He debuted at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on May 23 and hit .309 with 2 homers and 16 RBIs before tearing his left (non-throwing) ulnar collateral ligament during a headfirst slide into home plate at Buffalo on June 17. Torres needed season-ending surgery.
“The way his trajectory was going, I think you would have seen him in the big leagues last year at some point in the end,” Cashman said. “You may very well have seen him as the DH or third baseman. It may have prevented us from trading for Todd Frazier.”
“He’s certainly a candidate amongst all, but we’re not anointing anybody at this point,” Cashman said.