(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
A few days ago Carlos Torres was weighing his options. The reliable righthander out of the bullpen was designated for assignment by the New York Mets after the season and opted for free agency with hopes he would get another invite to pitch in New York. The Mets weighed their options and bypassed giving him another opportunity after finishing with a 4.69 ERA in 59 games this past season.
So with the opening of spring training camps on the horizon, Torres and his agents went to work. The Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, and going on the other side of town to pitch for the Yankees were the leading teams to ink his name on a contract. The Yankees, with a need for a righty out of the pen, looked at their options and bypassed taking Torres who has a career 4.26 ERA in six seasons with the White Sox, Rockies and the Mets.
“It was a matter of Carlos throwing a lot of innings the past two years and our needs said otherwise,” said a high ranking front office official with the Nationals. The Yankees said it was strictly talk and nothing else as they believe the middle part and back end of their bullpen is set and ready to go.
The Braves on Thursday made it official and signed Torres to a minor league deal and an invite to spring training. With six years of Major League service, the 33-year old Torres now has a chance to compete for setup role in the Braves’ bullpen, a team that is rebuilding and there is also the option that he could be traded to another team.
And perhaps the Braves, a team that will not be in the hunt for the postseason, will look at making a deal once Torres is on the 25-man roster. A team in the rebuilding stages could in return get some viable minor league players that will help them get back to the top in the National League East.
On the other hand, Torres may have been a good fit for the Yankees as a spot starter or middle relief, perhaps filling a void in their pen with the trade of Adam Warren to the Chicago Cubs. The year before, in 2014, Torres had his best year as a Met posting a record of 8-6 with an ERA of 3.06.
However, Torres logged 154.2 innings the past two years and that may have taken a toll on the command and location of his pitches. Mets manager Terry Collins went to Torres often and though the velocity was still there on the curve, fastball and cutter, the command was not there and that showed in September when Torres was not effective in key situations.
Said Torres about a possible move across town to the Yankees, “I am always the last to know but it is nice to hear that a team with all that history had me in some possible discussions.”
The Yankees with a big three of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and newly acquired Aroldis Chapman, have three of the best and established closers out of the pen that will be hard to beat in the late innings, and assuming they remain injury free will be a viable threat. But to get to them, and assuming them inconsistent starting pitching allows an opportunity, a valuable righthander such as Torres would get to one of the three.
But GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi have put their emphasis on youngsters including lefthander Chasen Shreve and lefty James Pazos who got a share of innings last season. Cashman did say at an event in New York Thursday evening that the Yankees are always looking to improve in the bullpen but did not elaborate on Torres.
Though Torres did have that good track record with the Mets, his age may have been a factor in him not coming to the Bronx, and not the contract. Either way, and from that track record of spot starts and being successful with most of his opportunities, the Yankees may have passed on a good opportunity in making Torres a part of that bullpen plan.
Said Torres about his move to the Braves, “Going to be weird being in Citi Field and going to the other locker room but that’s life.” And for the moment that first reunion with his former team at Citi Field will come the first three days in the month of May. Of course with a free agent contract, and always a need for a valuable arm out of the pen, don’t rule anything out.
The Yankees at some point could still look for Torres if the price is right and if the situation arises for their pen. Crazier things have happened during the course of a long baseball season and perhaps we have not seen the last days of Carlos Torres wearing the uniform of a New York baseball team.