Not only did the Yankees snap their four-game losing skid with Tuesday’s 11-inning victory over the first-place Rays, but it seems they may also have found a solution to their defensive woes at shortstop. For all his accomplishments offensively, Gleyber Torres has long been a square peg at shortstop, looking more like a DH with each passing season.
The 24-year-old’s defensive struggles have been especially apparent of late with Torres committing three of his team-high nine errors over his past two starts. Torres was absent from Tuesday’s starting lineup (though he did enter the game as a pinch-hitter in the 10th inning) with Gio Urshela, a third baseman by trade, drawing a rare start at shortstop. Despite his relative inexperience at the position (19 career appearances including 14 starts), Urshela thrived there in the win over Tampa, impressing with a number of head-turning scoops and a slew of Jeter-esque throws across the diamond. Rays postseason hero Randy Arozarena couldn’t catch a break in the losing effort with Urshela robbing him on two near-identical plays spaced five innings apart.
Urshela’s defensive prowess isn’t a new revelation—the 29-year-old was a Gold Glove finalist last season and currently ranks third among qualified third basemen in defensive runs saved. But with Torres a known liability in the field, would the Yankees consider slotting Urshela at shortstop full-time? In that scenario, DJ LeMahieu would likely shift to the hot corner (a position he’s fairly well-versed at with 94 lifetime starts) with Torres taking over at second. Torres, of course, began his major-league career at second base, playing there until Didi Gregorius’ departure last year. That might provide a temporary fix, though it should be noted Torres was just as disastrous at second base when he played there, accounting for -11 defensive runs saved (second-worst to Oakland’s Jurickson Profar) in 2019.
While identifying the team’s optimal defensive alignment is certainly among manager Aaron Boone’s top priorities, the greater concern for the Bombers remains their dormant offense, ranking near the bottom of the league in both batting average (.227, fifth-worst) and runs scored (207, sixth-fewest).