In 2016, Ronald Torreyes was the primary bench player for the New York Yankees, but is he playing himself out of that role this Spring?
Torreyes slashed .258/.305/.374 with one home run and made just three errors in 72 games played. Although those numbers won’t knock you off your feet, the 24-year-old was on the roster from Opening Day to the final game of the season and even gave third baseman Chase Headley a run for his money at the end of the year.
But entering play against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, Torreyes has been the opposite of the reliable utility infielder he was in 2016.
Through 12 games, Torreyes is 6-for-28 (.214) with an uninspiring on-base percentage of .241. More importantly, the usually sure-handed infielder has made three errors in 21 chances (.857 FLD%) compared to the mere two errors he made in his first year in the Bronx.
This Spring, the Yankees have Ruben Tejada and Pete Kozma in camp with something to prove. Both of them are vying for a spot on the 25-man roster. But have they done enough to put Torreyes’ job in jeopardy?
Tejada, who joined Yankees camp as a non-roster invitee, has had a decent Spring Training. In 20 at-bats, Tejada is hitting .250/.304/.554 with no homers and five RBIs. What could help Tejada’s case for the bench job is his Major League experience. In 1,997 major league at-bats, Tejada owns a .252/.327/.643 slash line with 10 homers and 153 RBI’s. While the bat is decent, the glove wasn’t particularly there; Tejada has an MLB career dWAR of 0.2.
The other candidate in camp is Pete Kozma. For someone not known for their bat, Kozma is having a good Spring Training offensively. In 18 at-bats, he’s hitting .278/.381/.770 with no homers and 3 RBI. Unlike Tejada, Kozma’s Major League career never exactly flourished. In 621 at-bats, Kozma hit .222/.288/.581 with three homers and 52 RBI. Ironically, while Kozma’s bat isn’t his strong suit, he has a better glove than Tejada. In Kozma’s brief five-year Major League career, Kozma has a dWAR of 1.8.
So do either Kozma or Tejada have what it takes to knock Torreyes from the 25-man roster? Not exactly.
As of right now, Kozma and Tejada’s chances to win a Major League job with the Yankees are extremely slim. The Yankees are comfortable with Torreyes as the backup and they like how versatile he is around the diamond.
I see Kozma and Tejada — if Tejada doesn’t opt-out of his minor-league deal — going to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to begin the year. In the off-chance Torreyes gets hurt, either one of them could get the call to the Bronx, but it’s hard to fathom either of the other candidates overtake Torreyes for the utility infielder role.