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Yankees, Luis Torrens Agree To Minor League Deal

The Yankees have agreed to a minor league contract with catcher Luis Torrens, per the team’s transaction log at MLB.com. Presumably, he’ll be in camp as a non-roster invitee this spring.

Torrens, 27, has spent time in the big leagues in each of the past five seasons, suiting up for the Mariners, Padres and Cubs in that time. He had a solid run with the ’21 Mariners, popping 15 home runs and hitting .243/.299/.431 over a career-high 378 plate appearances, but he’s generally struggled at the plate since. In 196 trips to the plate over the past two MLB seasons, Torrens carries just a .229/.286/.307 slash.

The Yankees are plenty familiar with Torrens, as they’re the organization that originally signed him as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela back in 2012. The Padres plucked Torrens out of the Yankees’ system in the 2016 Rule 5 Draft even though he’d never played above A-ball. A then-rebuilding San Diego club succeeded on keeping Torrens on its Major League roster all season, thus acquiring his long-term rights. He spent nearly all of the 2018-19 seasons in the minors, hitting quite in well in Double-A, but was traded to the Mariners alongside Ty France, Andres Munoz and Taylor Trammell in the 2020 swap that sent Austin Nola and Dan Altavilla to the Padres.

Overall, Torrens is a career .227/.289/.354 hitter in the bigs and a .246/.311/.486 hitter in Triple-A. He has at times shown the ability to be an above-average hitter relative to his position, and at his best he draws interesting ratings from Statcast in terms of his batted-ball profile. From 2020-22, Torrens averaged a hearty 91 mph off the bat and saw a sizable 45.7% of his batted balls travel at velocities of 95 mph or greater. But he’s also been too strikeout prone, sports a below-average walk rate and puts the ball on the ground far too often (49.9%) for someone who’s ranked in the 26th percentile of MLB players in terms of sprint speed (per Statcast). Defensively, Torrens has some encouraging traits and also some red flags. He’s thwarted a huge 37% of stolen base attempts against him in his professional career but also consistently delivered negative marks for framing.

It’s not a surprise to see the Yankees add some more catching depth. New York traded backup catcher Kyle Higashioka to the Padres as part of their deal to acquire Juan Soto, and they’ll face a decision on Ben Rortvedt this spring given that he’s out of minor league options. With prospect Austin Wells and veteran Jose Trevino already on the 40-man and likelier to make the roster, Rortvedt could be squeezed out, and Torrens adds some depth in the event that he’s claimed by another club. If not, he can join Rortvedt and Carlos Narvaez as catching options in Triple-A Scranton, where he could also see occasional action at first base — a position where Torrens has tallied 482 innings between the majors and minors.

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