The Yankees must offer Didi Gregorius a contract extension

Now that the dust has settled following Didi Gregorius’ majestic offensive display on Tuesday, it is time to sit back and think of the big picture. The once soft-spoken heir to the greatest Yankee shortstop in their rich history is now entrenched in the middle of one of the most feared offensive tandems in recent baseball memory. He has cemented himself in Yankee playoff history with his game-tying home run in the Wild Card matchup and his two home runs against the supposedly unhittable Corey Kluber in Game 5 of the ALDS last season. He makes tough-back handed hops appear routine as he whips perfectly placed throws across the diamond to first base. He is a team-first guy who has the character and mentality that make him a model athlete and person, all while playing under the glaring spotlight that is the Bronx. Are there better middle infielders than Gregorius, in some aspects of the game? Yes, and if you say no, you’re drowning in your Yankees’ bias. However, Gregorius is a stud and has proven he can get it done in New York, in the playoffs, and that he is on incline in terms of performance.

Photo Credit: BR

The most notable Yankee contract extensions of this century have been given to Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. While Gregorius has not had the statistical outputs of A-Rod and Jeter, this illustrates that the Yankees are not afraid to give long-term contracts to their franchise infielders. One contract extension I want to look further into is Jeter’s.

Jeter agreed to a 10-year, $189-million deal with the Yankees prior to the 2001 season, which made him one of the highest paid athletes of all-time. Up to that point in time, Jeter had done almost everything possible to earn this massive payday. He had multiple World Series rings, a ROY award, three Top-10 MVP finishes, and a plethora of accolades and league leader finishes. Was he the most talented player at that position in 2000? That is a definite no. Nomar Garciaparra hit .372 with the Red Sox and Alex Rodriguez had just accumulated a 10.4 WAR in the year prior to Jeter’s huge contract. He was not even the best player on the team that season as Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, and Roger Clemens accumulated a higher WAR than Jeter did. However, Jeter brought intangibles to the Yankees that none of the previously mentioned players had in comparison. His class, work ethic, demeanor, professionalism, and representativeness of how the model Yankee should compose themselves was unmatched.

Flash forward to 2018, and similarly to 2000, there’s a new wave of young shortstops taking the sport over by storm. Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Francisco Lindor, Trea Turner, Manny Machado, and Didi Gregorius headline a surplus of talent that now occupies shortstop as their position in Major League Baseball. With those players all appearing to be franchise players for a long time, with the exception of Machado, the Yankees need to be smart like they were with Jeter, and lock up their stud, young shortstop to a long-term deal.

Gregorius does not have the same statistical pedigree as Jeter did coming into negotiations, even though I would argue his defense is lightyears better than Jeter’s ever was, but the situation is nevertheless the same. The Yankees have a young player who is one of the model athletes in the sport, and should not let him get away. He has defied all expectations, since Yankee fans reacted with pure dismay back when he became the new shortstop and has performed better each year in almost every statistical category.

Now, I want to compare Didi’s 2017 season with a few other shortstops in the sport who have recently signed extensions with their teams.
5 million dollars in arbitration
Elvis Andrus
8 years and 120 million dollars
Brandon Crawford
6 years and 75 million dollars

Crawford and Andrus are two talented players and posted similar seasons to Didi’s 2017. Crawford posted slightly better defensive metrics, and Andrus had more of a base running impact than Didi, but offensively Didi had better or very similar seasons than Andrus and Crawford had before they signed their deals. Given that Gregorius is projected to improve on his 2017 season, there is no reason why he has not earned a similar or more lucrative deal than Crawford or Andrus.

After missing almost a month of the 2017 season due to an injury sustained in the WBC, Gregorius was able to put together his best statistical season of his career and has shown no signs of slowing down in 2018 as he is currently slashing .364/.440/.909 through the season’s first six games. While this pace is nowhere near sustainable over the course of a season, Gregorius has displayed that we should expect another great season out of him in in 2018 on both sides of the ball.

Sir Didi is a one-of-a-kind player and human being that has shown no signs of slowing down, which is a huge green flag for management when considering a long-term contract. While not being a part of as many playoff teams as Jeter had in this stage of his career, Gregorius has proven that no moment is too big for him not to perform. Gregorius’ home run in the 2017 Wild Card game brought back ghosts from the Old Yankee Stadium that appeared to be lost forever with the dismemberment of the 90’s dynasty over the years. He embraced a role that most shortstops would not dream of having to take up as an unproven major league player, and has done everything and more that the Yankees could have thought he would contribute. Start spreading the news, it is time to lock-up and pay Didi.

Article by: Ryan Thoms


  1. Completely agree with this assessment, and I dare say, I would rather keep Gregorius rather than sign Machado. The one thing the Yanks did really well during their WS title runs was NOT sign huge contract players; rather, they kept the major core intact (Williams, O'Neill, Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte, etc). When the Yanks started slipping, it was when they chased all the big dream players. I love Machado and he will be a stud player, but I love Didi's character, devotion, and work ethic more. We don't need another slugger (don't get me wrong, a possible Judge, Stanton, Sanchez, Machado, Bird lineup would be brutally good), we need those special "beyond-the-numbers" type guys and Didi is such a gem.

  2. I agree he needs to be extended. Next year after the luxury tax resets.


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