Free agency looming, Gleyber hopes 'to be a Yankee for life'

February 21st, 2024

TAMPA, Fla. -- The manicured mustache that sported earlier this week vanished by the time the Yankees took their individual photographs Wednesday morning, with the second baseman explaining that he couldn’t stomach seeing it splashed on 100-foot-tall video screens for each at-bat this season.

So a clean-shaven Torres struck all the familiar poses while mugging for the cameras, alternating between raising his bat and fielding glove while dressed in his bright white pinstripes. It is the only uniform that Torres hopes to wear during his career, though with free agency around the corner, that decision is not in his hands.

“I don’t want to leave from here,” Torres said. “I feel at home right now. I know everybody; [these are] my brothers, my family here. I want to be a Yankee for life.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said recently that there have been no negotiations concerning a potential extension for Torres, 27, who slashed .273/.347/.453 with 25 home runs and 68 RBIs in 158 games last season. Torres is earning $14.2 million in his final year under team control.

Though Torres’ name has been discussed in potential trades at the past few Trade Deadlines, Cashman said he is committed to Torres being the Yankees’ second baseman “for this year.” Torres said that he and his agents at Octagon Sports are waiting on the club to open extension talks, but Torres said he also understands why there may be hesitancy.

During Spring Training in 2019, the Yankees pursued and reached extensions with right-hander Luis Severino (four years, $40 million) and outfielder Aaron Hicks (seven years, $70 million), seizing upon an opportunity to secure a pair of young players for whom they forecast bright futures.

Injuries and underperformance sank both deals. Severino is now with the Mets, having signed a one-year, $13 million make-good contract after posting a 6.65 ERA in his walk year with the Yankees. New York remains on the hook for more than $18 million due to Hicks, who was designated for assignment in May and is now with the Angels after spending the rest of 2023 with the Orioles.

“I don’t blame [Cashman], and also I don’t blame the organization to [not] talk extension,” Torres said. “Unfortunately, over the past couple of years, we had a couple of extensions for Sevy and Hicksie. Unfortunately, they got injuries. As a team and also as a business plan, it’s not good to get extensions and get an injury.

“The last couple of years, [Aaron] Judge didn’t get an extension, and they did the right thing after the season. I’m basically on the same plan. I understand it’s a business plan, and also it’s just a game. They may be waiting for after the season, and we’ll have a really good conversation.”

Torres made it clear that he was not disparaging Hicks or Severino, but only referencing the reality of their injury issues. He said that he recently spoke with Severino about their respective situations.

“I hope Sevy has a really good year with the Mets,” Torres said, “and myself, have a really good year with the Yankees and stay a long time.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that he expects a strong season from Torres.

“I’m excited for Gleyber; I think Gleyber is going to have a great year,” Boone said. “He’s another guy that I feel like has had a good winter. Being not only a guy now with a lot of experience in the prime of his career who is really talented, and [understanding] all that we’re playing for as a team, but obviously in a walk year I think will be even more motivation as well.”

As’s Anthony Castrovince recently detailed, the Yankees are expected to have three of the game’s top free agents after the 2024 campaign, with Torres potentially accompanied by outfielder Juan Soto and right-hander Clay Holmes on the open market.

Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner has also said that he envisions Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza as the future of the Yankees’ infield. At present, Peraza appears to be on the outside looking in, waiting for an opportunity to crack the lineup.

Cashman has said that he expects Soto to test free agency, while Holmes said there have been no overtures from the club concerning an extension. With outfielder Alex Verdugo also potentially a one-and-done in New York, that increases the urgency for this roster to deliver on its potential.

“I don’t know the last time when the Yankees had this kind of lineup; that combo, righty-lefty-righty,” Torres said. “It’s just amazing. Soto and Verdugo are the kinds of lefties we needed, contact and also power hitters. I feel like we have everything to do something special this year.”