The Tuesday Discussion – The Didi Gregorius Question
We asked our writers:
If you were the Yankees GM, would you re-sign Didi Gregorius. Why or why not?
Here are their responses:
Lincoln Mitchell – Didi Gregorius was a good, and at times excellent, player for the Yankees over the last four years, but I would not resign him. Gregorius offers an intriguing combination of power and defense at shortstop, but his inability to draw walks and very streaky hitting makes him a less valuable offensive player than might seem to be the case at first glance. Those flaws in his game contributed to an OPS+ of 101 during his four years with the Yankees. I suspect many casual Yankees fans would be surprised that number is not higher. Gregorius will be 30 when next season starts and will likely to continue to slow down in the field as well, thus further diminishing his value. For much of his time with the Yankees, Gregorius batted third, thus further exposing his limited offensive value. Gregorius cannot be blamed fo that, but it did not help him or the Yankees much of the time. The other reason not to resign Gregorius is that Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu are both excellent players who need to play every day. However, LeMahieu will likely regress a bit next year, meaning he will put up good numbers for a middle infielder, but not for a first baseman. Accordingly he should become the full time second baseman, with Torres taking over at shortstop. Torres is not as good with the glove as Gregorius, but that gap is not enormous and will be partially made up by moving LeMahieu to second. With that arrangement in the middle of the infield, the Yankees will have some flexibility to figure out the corner infield and DH roles. Gregorius is a good player, but the Yankees have already gotten his best years. Let another team pay for his decline years.
Matthew Cohen – Didi was one of the Yankees’ best players in 2017 and 2018 with 4.1 and 4.7 WAR. 2019 was a lost year as Didi only played half a season and was only worth .9 WAR. If Didi had not gotten injured and had performed at his 2017 and 2018 levels, he was in for a nice payday.
Without a detailed analysis, my quick gut check is that the contenders with extra budget are not really looking for shortstops. Maybe the Padres could be interested because they are only a couple of players away from catching the Dodgers after adding Manny Machado (yes, that’s a joke).
My point is that if you can get a 30 year old Didi on a reasonable deal (2-3 years at $20 million or so per year) you do it. He should still be a 3-4 WAR shortstop and you are not eating bad years in his mid 30s. LeMahieu goes back to being a super sub and you have coverage across the infield in case of injury. This of course assumes that the Yankees do not blow their budget on Gerrit Cole this fall. If that happens, I doubt that they spend the money on Didi.
Derek McAdam – As much as I would love to see Didi back in pinstripes for next season and beyond, I would not take my chances in signing him. Gregorius has been an excellent clubhouse figure and an icon for Yankees fans in his five seasons with the team. But there are many questions that have to be answered about Gregorius. Does he ever make a full recovery from Tommy John Surgery? Is he worth a four or five-year contract? Can the Yankees find an upgrade via trade? Gregorius had six errors during the 2019 season, the same he had for the entire 2018 season. I will give him the benefit of the doubt because of the surgery, but the Yanks may not want to assume he will just get better. If I am Brian Cashman, I would pass on signing Gregorius and let him become a free agent.
Jacob Gaba – Didi is probably going to have a decently high asking price. While I love Didi and think he’s done an amazing job bridging the Jeter years to now, I think that the Yankees shouldn’t re-sign Didi if it will prevent them from strengthening the rotation or making other, more important moves first. Gleyber Torres is more than capable at short, while DJ LeMahieu is a gold glove-caliber second baseman. The infield and the lineup won’t suffer without Didi. He’s certainly meant a lot to this organization and to the fans over the past few seasons, but that has to be separated from the value that he is bringing to the team as a player. The Yankees should hold firm on whatever lower offer they will give him and not spend too much to keep him around.
Mike Whiteman – I would re-sign Gregorius. He provides needed left handed power and above average defense at shortstop.
The temptation is to let him walk and let Gleyber move to shortstop and LeMehieu to second full time. One of the reasons why the Yankees didn’t lose a beat through all of the injuries is that LeMahieu was able to pretty seamlessly move between three positions in the infield while providing elite offense. Moving DJ to one position makes for guys like Wade and Estrada to make the team as backups. Both look to be good players, but not in LeMahiu’s class. Sign Didi and keep LeMahieu in the position in which he excelled in 2019.
Paul Semendinger – I plan an in-depth series that will showcase my plans for the 2020 Yankees. In short, I’m torn about Didi Gregorius. I’d love to have him back, but I do not want the Yankees to commit large amounts of money to a shortstop coming off a poor year and coming off an injury… especially when they have an ample replacement in Gleyber Torres. If I had to decide right now, I would let Didi Gregorius walk. I would not resign him. I hate saying that because Didi has been a big part of this team.