I’ve long ago given up trying to figure out who Major League Baseball deems worthy of playing in their member clubs and who they refuse to allow through their gates. There’s really no rhyme or reason behind why some players stick, some earn second chances, and others don’t warrant even a glance despite their results. Coming out of this year’s Winter Leagues no player better showcases how hard it is to figure out who does and doesn’t get another chance than Ramón Torres.
Torres has been out of MLB since 2018 and was released out of affiliated ball outright following the 2019 season. It’s not surprising that Torres didn’t manage to stick with an MLB club his first go-around or that he found himself out of affiliated ball last year. His MLB numbers, though small, were not good. In two years and 108 plate appearances, he slashed .225/.269/.265 with a 45 OPS+ and -0.1 rWAR. His numbers in the minor leagues were better, but nothing to write home about. Torres never appeared as an offensive force and his defensive prowess at multiple positions wasn’t enough to make up for his lack of offense.
That all seemed to change this winter when Torres was a late-season addition for Águilas Cibaeñas of Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana. He started off slow, playing at the level he had exhibited throughout most of his career. Then the playoffs started and every round he put up better numbers. By the time the Finals had concluded it was clear that he was in the running for the Most Valuable Player award. He did not get that award, Juan Lagares had a monster Finals that no one else could match, but Torres had been a monster himself during the finals.
All told Torres finished his LIDOM campaign with a .244/.354/.366 slash line and a 108 OPS+. Those numbers aren’t screaming “Hey, I belong back in the majors”, in fact, they are right in line with his minor league numbers. If Torres’ winter had ended there this article wouldn’t be seeing the light of day. The Águilas brought Torres with them to Serie del Caribe where he was installed as their everyday leadoff hitter and he excelled. In 15 plate appearances, he slashed .455/.571/.545. He had one double and four singles, but what most stuck out to me were his three walks and one strikeout. Combined with his LIDOM campaign that gave him 10 walks and eight strikeouts on the season.
Listen, I’m not saying that Torres would come onto an MLB roster and light the world on fire. What I am saying is he’s deserving of another shot. In years past he would have gotten his second chance without question. In a day and age where MLB teams valued winning over profitability, they would have brought him on and seen if he could contribute.
That’s not today’s MLB though, the MLB of the present is only concerned with profitability and that creates a scenario where they are going to limit the number of guys they risk giving MLB-level contracts to. It doesn’t matter that Torres just played in a major league level tournament and excelled, or that his play became better and better as the winter went along. Torres finds himself an odd man out, a man without a second chance in MLB because today’s MLB isn’t built on giving second chances, not when cheaper, younger players who can be better cost-controlled are available. Hopefully, Torres catches on in Mexico, Japan, or somewhere else, because I think it’s fairly obvious he has plenty of good baseball left in him.
Lead photo courtesy of Félix León – Diario Libre