The Cubs addressed a need for some up-the-middle depth on Wednesday and did so by landing a player who was once a prospect in their organization.Chicago acquired infielder Ronald Torreyes from the Yankees in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, adding a versatile defender for
The Cubs addressed a need for some up-the-middle depth on Wednesday and did so by landing a player who was once a prospect in their organization.
Chicago acquired infielder Ronald Torreyes from the Yankees in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, adding a versatile defender for multiple spots around the diamond. The fact that Torreyes can handle second base and shortstop gives the Cubs an added layer of depth as the team maps out its plans for its infield alignment next season.
National League MVP runner-up Javier Baez finished the season at shortstop and will likely begin the 2019 campaign at that same spot, given Addison Russell's uncertain status. The Cubs have until 7 p.m. CT on Friday to decide whether to tender Russell a contract (along with any other unsigned members of the 40-man roster) for next season. Even if Russell is retained, the shortstop won't be eligible to be activated until May 3, the end of his 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy.
Torreyes provides depth at shortstop behind Baez, who could easily shift back to second base, if necessary. Another scenario for the Cubs would be pursuing an alternative for second base this winter and keeping Baez at short. Either way, having Torreyes as a bench option for both positions helps Chicago's planning. Benjamin Zobrist, Ian Happ and David Bote represent other in-house alternatives for second.
Over parts of four Major League seasons playing for the Dodgers and Yankees, the 26-year-old Torreyes has appeared in 92 games at second, 74 at third base and 60 at shortstop. In the past three years with New York, he has hit .281/.308/.374 in 221 games. Torreyes hit .280 with eight extra-base hits and a .664 OPS in 102 plate appearances with the Yankees in 2018.
Torreyes was originally acquired by the Cubs in December 2011 as part of a trade with the Reds that sent Sean Marshall to Cincinnati. The Cubs later dealt Torreyes to the Astros for international slot money in July 2013, and the infielder eventually found his way into the Yankees' system by the 2016 season.
Torreyes, who is eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason, has strong bat-to-ball ability, posting an 85.1 percent contact rate over his career in the Majors. For perspective, only 20 qualified MLB batters had a higher contact rate during 2018. Torreyes also boasts a 91.5 percent contact rate on pitches in the strike zone in his career.
Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.