What might a Didi Gregorius extension look like?


For most of the offseason, amid the rumors surrounding Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the Yankees were rumored to be seeking extensions with some of their impending 2019-2020 free agents; most notably Aaron Hicks, Dellin Betances, and Didi Gregorius. Exactly one third of those dominoes has now fallen, after Hicks and the Yankees agreed to a seven-year, $70 million extension early Monday morning. It was reported later that day that the Yankees were laying the groundwork on extending Betances as well.

With an extension reached with Hicks, and work being done on extending Betances, the only impending free agent left is Gregorius, who is one of the top all around shortstops in the game, and arguably one of the most fun players the Yankees have. If the Yankees choose to extend Didi as well, what might that look like?

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Let's set the tone by discussing the 29-year-old Didi. His 2018 season was the best of his career, where he put up a .268/.335/.494 batting line (121 wRC+), with 27 homers and 86 RBIs. His defensive numbers were about average, putting up -2 Defensive Runs Saved and a 3.9 Ultimate Zone Rating. This all led to a 4.6 fWAR in 2018, which is a career high. However, due to his Tommy John surgery, Didi will not be able to play a full season in 2019, which is a huge detriment to both the team as well as his impending free agency. The Yankees don’t know what they will be getting in Didi when he returns later this year, and this is probably one of the reasons they haven’t reached any type of extension yet. However, if the team has full faith in Didi’s recovery, an extension will hopefully be reached at some point, as Didi is too valuable a player for the Yankees to let leave in free agency.

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One way to try and predict what a Gregorius extension would look like is to compare him to similar players who have signed extensions, the first of which that comes to mind is Brandon Crawford. The Giants signed Crawford, who was 28 at the time, to a six-year, $75 million extension after the 2015 season, after Crawford posted a .256/.321/.462 batting line (113 wRC+), with 21 homers, and 84 RBIs on offense, and a strong 10.9 Ultimate Zone Rating and 20 Defensive Runs Saved, all of which was good for a 4.3 fWAR. The extension bought out Crawford’s last two years of arbitration and four years of free agency. This is a good building block on creating an extension for Didi, as his 2018 season was similar to Crawford’s 2015 season.

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Another comparable shortstop extension is one given to Jean Segura in 2017. With two seasons remaining before free agency, the Mariners signed the 27-year-old Segura to a five-year, $70 million contract with a club option for a sixth year at $17 million. Segura’s extension is a bit more unique, as it was reached in the middle of his first season with the Mariners. However, he was a 5.1 fWAR player in 2016 for the Diamondbacks, batting .319/.368/.499 (126 wRC+), with 20 homers, 64 RBIs, and 102 runs scored. His defense was almost exactly league average, at 0 DRS and -0.2 UZR. It is also worth noting that, when he signed his extension on June 6th, 2017, Segura was on the DL with an ankle injury, but had put up a .341/.391/.462 (135 wRC+) line with four homers and 29 RBIs.

An extension of Didi would most likely be similar to the ones given to Segura and Crawford. Didi is a year older than Crawford and two years older than Segura when they received their extensions, which is definitely a factor, but at the same time he is right in line with both of them offensively, and sort of in the middle defensively. Because of this, I would predict that, if the Yankees manage to secure an extension with Didi, it would be for five years and $75 million. Shortstops who can hit close to thirty home runs are not a common entity, and Didi deserves to be paid because of this.  

Article by: Alex Weir

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