The Yankees announced devastating news regarding their top prospect, Gleyber Torres, as the highly touted young infielder has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left (non-throwing) elbow and will require Tommy John surgery. Torres will miss the remainder of the 2017 season, though the Yankees note that they expect him to be ready for Spring Training 2018. (Recovery from Tommy John is typically shorter for position players than it is for pitchers.)
The diagnosis is crushing for the Yankees, who undoubtedly hoped to bring their prized infield prospect to the Majors at some point this summer. The 20-year-old Torres, acquired from the Cubs in last summer’s Aroldis Chapman blockbuster, opened the season in Double-A but had recently been promoted to Triple-A following a strong start to the year. A natural shortstop, Torres had been shifted over to third base, likely in order to prepare him for a summer promotion that would displace struggling veteran Chase Headley.
Torres reportedly suffered the injury while sliding into home plate over the weekend, and while he’d already been placed on the minor league disabled list, certainly this type of diagnosis was not what the Yankees or anyone else was anticipating.
Through a combined 235 plate appearances with the Yankees’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, Torres was batting .287/.383/.480 with seven homers, 14 doubles, two triples and seven stolen bases despite being one of the youngest players in the Double-A Eastern League and in the Triple-A International League.
If the Yankees do still decide they’d like an upgrade over Headley, who is hitting .244/.329/.364 on the season, the trade market should bear a number of hot-corner alternatives. White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier will be among the most readily available options at third base, and it’s also likely that the Giants will field offers for Eduardo Nunez. Mike Moustakas stands out as another rental option, though the Royals’ recently improved play will likely put a hold on any thoughts Kansas City might’ve had about trading veterans. Both Oakland’s Jed Lowrie and San Diego’s Yangervis Solarte (a former Yankee) should be available in trade talks as well, though each has played more second than third lately.
And it should, of course, be noted that Headley has performed better at the plate recently. While he’s still not showing much pop, he’s posted a .284/.395/.358 batting line over his past 81 PAs dating back to late May. While that’s not elite production, the gaudy OBP would compensate for a lack of power if Headley were able to sustain something close to that pace.