Cubs: Gleyber Torres is a huge question mark at this point in his career

(Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

Remember back in 2016 when the Cubs sent top prospect Gleyber Torres to the Yankees in the midseason trade for Aroldis Chapman and fans collectively lost their minds? Despite the fact that move directly contributed to Chicago ending a 108-year championship drought, there are still folks who love to rehash that deal to this day.

Torres, who is under control through the 2024 season via arbitration, once looked like the stud we all thought he’d be at the time of the trade – hence the heated discussions about him among Cubs fans. But over the last two years, he’s been anything but elite, slashing just .256/.337/.366 as his power just completely evaporated.

Paired with his defensive shortcomings (the Yankees actually had to move him off shortstop last season because of his struggles) and the future is anything but bright at this point for Torres. That’s not to say he won’t come back with a monster performance in 2022, but it’s safe to say he’s not a sure thing at this point.

New York has a ton of questions in the infield – and could be one of the busiest teams in the league once the lockout ends. Is Luke Voit the guy moving forward at first base or will the Bronx Bombers reunite with Anthony Rizzo in free agency? What about a pursuit of Freddie Freeman?

Will Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone pencil in Torres at shortstop once again or look to move him to second, which, in turn, would prompt two-time batting champ and former Cub DJ LeMahieu to move around the diamond defensively? Is a Carlos Correa pursuit in the cards? Will Torres wind up on the trading block?

Given all the uncertainty surrounding the 25-year-old, it’s safe to say the 2022 campaign has a make-or-break feel for Torres. He needs to re-establish his value in the Bronx or he’ll quickly find himself on the outside looking in. At one point, he was a clear heir apparent to Didi Gregorius at shortstop. After all, he blasted a career-high 38 home runs in his second year in the league. Now, though, his name is written in the depth chart in pencil.

The former Cubs prospect is facing a big-time test heading into 2022

We all know how that 2016 season wound up going. Torres joined the Yankees’ farm system and Chapman and his triple-digit fastball anchored the back end of the Chicago bullpen, notching a 1.01 ERA and 0.82 FIP down the stretch to go along with a ridiculous 15.5 K/9 mark.

Once the confetti had been swept off the streets in downtown Chicago, Chapman wound up returning to the Big Apple on a five-year deal in free agency. He inked another extension in 2019 – a three-year pact that runs through this season. But although the left-hander came back after a few months in the Windy City in the end, it was supposed to be Torres who would be a long-term asset.

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Now, heading into 2022, the former Cubs prospect is hoping to get back on track – because the last two years have been anything but expected for a guy who was supposed to lead the new era of Yankees baseball.