Monday, March 20, 2017
TAMPA, Fla. — In 2012, virtually all Latin American baseball scouts and their major league employers knew about Gleyber Torres, an athletic 15-year-old born in Caracas, Venezuela, who had supple hands and a potent, well-honed swing. All the big clubs with money to burn envisioned Torres in their own uniforms, and that included the Yankees.
Their international scouting department had targeted Torres as the top free-agent player outside the United States, and the Yankees were prepared to spend lavishly to sign him in July 2013, by which time he would be 16. But before that could happen, the Yankees, by the autumn of 2012, began to pick up some worrisome signals. Torres and his family were not talking to all the scouts the way they once were, and he wasn’t showcasing his talents for public consumption.
“He stopped doing tryouts and everything,” said Brian Cashman, the Yankees’ general manager. “But he was our No. 1 guy. I kept talking to our guys.”
To no avail, however. The Chicago Cubs had managed to gain an inside track with Torres and his family. Everyone else, including the Yankees, was on the outside looking in.
Better late than never. I’m still amazed that the Yankees were able to get Torres and more for a few months of Aroldis Chapman.